I’ve been speaking about play and reading to parent groups for many years. I’m not a teacher or reading expert by any means, but it’s been very easy and fun to be an advocate for the importance of reading to (and with) children.
Many of us already know the value of reading and I always ask my groups, “Why should we read to our babies?” The answers are plentiful: brain growth, cognitive connections, vocabulary development, language skills, bonding, fun, etc.
Then I ask another question: “Do you remember being read to as a child?”
Not everyone has such a memory, but those who do often remember the books as well, such as Berenstain Bears, Golden Books, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, etc.
And there is always an obscure title mentioned with a smile and a brief nostalgic nod.
Looking deeper, these memories come from time spent together as child and parent with books at the center. Memories that incorporate books and reading are there for the making! Some fun ideas include:
- Family trips to the library.
- Gathering books to donate.
- Saving an allowance to buy a book.
- A special book that only grandma reads with them.
- Planned reading time together, taking turns reading to each other (especially good for older children).
- Talking about favorite books at dinnertime.
- A book exchange with neighbors and friends.
It’s hard to predict what memories will linger as we grow into adulthood, but these activities are valuable even if long forgotten.
– Betsy Clancy is a group coordinator for the Beaumont Parenting Program.