If this picture looks familiar that is because I inadvertently posted it yesterday. I am still trying to figure out Word Press and all of the functions (sigh). My writing skills are also in definite need of a brush-up. So thank you to my readers for your patience and perseverance. I will eventually post the pictures and words that I mean to.
I do want to talk about books and their importance in the life of our family. I have always been an avid reader and my love of books goes way back to my hometown library that was conveniently a one block walk from our house, and my Uncle Jim who took me book shopping every year on my birthday. What a gift!
My husband and I were very deliberate in introducing books to our kids at a very young age. We probably have (at least) 40 board books for babies. We read to the kids before they could understand a thing. Then suddenly, they would realize that something fun was going on and they would ask for a book. Before my son Ben was two he would come up with a thick board book or two in hand and say, “Pwease wead!” Who could resist?
We have books in literally every room in the house.
Ever since my kids became too “old” for summer reading programs we have begun to just jot down the list and keep it where we can all admire it. Some years we list the page totals but this year we kept it simple and only listed titles and authors.
So what is the point, you may ask. Why all of this excessive accumulation of books? Kids who read well are better students. This has born itself out in each one of my children. Reading well is instrumental in learning every subject, even Math!
Reading is the great escape from the craziness of the world we live in. It eliminates boredom on long car trips (or short ones!). It keeps us entertained when electronics are off limits or unavailable. (Really, nothing is better than a good dose of Harry Potter, no matter your age!)
We improve and learn new skills when we read. I have learned to cook, sew, homeschool, and hone my parenting skills, (just to name a few things) all courtesy of a few good books.
Books can teach us empathy. For a few pages or chapters we are able to walk in the shoes of those who are not like us. We can live through unimaginable, horrific times in concentrations camps or the killing fields in Rawanda and come back changed. We can open up the new Malcolm Gladwell book, Talking to Strangers, and rethink how we are interacting with those we meet.
Even very young children can find out what it is like to have a hard time learning (read Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco), how it felt to be a Jewish child in Nazi Germany (The Butterfly by Polacco), or how truly terrible the Civil War was (try Pink and Say by Polacco). These books will spark conversation and will enable your child to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
I think this is the most compelling reason to read broadly and often! The world needs empathetic, understanding individuals, now more than ever. We need people who can step into another’s place, if only for a few moments, and see the world as the other person sees it. This is the way to build bridges instead of walls.
I am grateful to my parents, the Garrett Public Library, and my uncle for lighting the spark that has become a life long passion. The next time you need to bring a gift to someone you love, do the world a favor, buy them a book!