“Reading to children even before they can understand, teaches them to associate books with love and affection.”
This quote was recently posted on Facebook by the Children’s Movement, and it made me think of the days when I read to my daughter, Ali. I have to admit some of my early selections for her were a little strange. Of course, I read a lot of Winnie the Pooh, Clifford, and she loved the Nick Butterworth books. I especially remember When we Play Together.I was surrounded with very generous professors at my university, so Ali always had the newest and best written books for children. One of her favorites was On the Farm by David Elliot. On the Farm had a rooster crowing, rams clashing, bees buzzing, and nice pink plump pigs lounging. On the Farm was so popular as my daughter grew older, I sometimes had to “lose” the book for a day or two.
I never missed reading to her at night time, but sometimes I needed to calm her during the day while I was working. I had a unique balancing act right after she was born. I was an Assistant Professor, and one of my tasks was to help students who were working on a Master’s degree in Education write their final papers. Each student wrote a thesis, and each student needed me to read the thesis and make suggestions. I found if I read sections of the papers all the way through before I began to give feedback, the process worked better for me, and the feedback was more meaningful. However, I felt really crunched for time because I had a new baby, and I was new at helping students on the graduate level. So during the day I would hold my daughter, and I would read aloud students’ papers about phonemic awareness, reading strategies, teaching vocabulary, improving students’ comprehension, and a myriad of other reading related topics. I found if I used the tone I used when I read the bedtime books, I could captivate my young listener while taking care of one of my work obligations. I felt a little silly sometimes reading the subject matter aloud to an infant, but I also loved the way she looked at me as though she understood every word.
My “baby” is 21 now. She grew up to be a reader and to have an inquisitive nature. Her dad and I read to her a lot, and every word and every minute was worth the effort. I have read all the research, and I know the quote about reading aloud helps children have positive feelings about reading and books.
However, what the quote does not go on to describe is the feeling a harried parent can have when he or she takes a few moments in a busy day to read with a child. I still remember those special days of sitting on the couch, student’s paper in one hand and Ali in the other arm. While a stressful time, it was also a joyous time. I encourage each of us to take the opportunity to share a book with a child whenever you are lucky enough to have the chance.