“Read me a story, tuck me in tight, say a sweet prayer, and kiss me goodnight.”
The quote above is on a plaque given to me by my daughters and hangs by my headboard. It may be one of my favorite presents. I read it every night before I lay down. From the time my children were born, I read to them. Reading to my children was an emotional connection. The sound of my voice, the rhythms, and feel good messages were soothing to them and me. While we read at other times, the nightly routine was always the same.
“Reading to children six to seven days a week puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to.” (John Elder). “Proof of benefits of reading to children.” (Sydney Morning Herald, March 3, 2013). https://www.smh.com.au/national/proof-of-benefits-of-reading-to-children-20130302-2fd7s.html
As we meet children in the library, we observe them gaining language and an understanding of the story. Two examples of this are a 3-year-old child whose mother shared videos of her child in the library. He read to himself. He was holding the book and making up a story based upon the pictures before him. He did not know how to read the words but he knew what a book was and did. Each time as he began, he said, “Once upon a time…” Already he knew the pattern of a book and believed he knew what to do. Another time, he was listening with headphones, “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” The whole time he listened, recited, and used his hands to illustrate the monkeys jumping to the rhythms of the words. These are the skills he had acquired as a result of reading: listening, patterns, small motor skills, managing a book, retelling a story, rhythms, observation, and visual learning. These are life skills.
Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote “The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.” She extols the virtues of reading to children reminding us that reading to a child strengthens relationships between the child and reader. In this book she inspires us to put down the phone, computer, or other device, then pick up a book, put the child in your lap or lay on a blanket in the sun reading and talking to the child.
Here are 10 benefits of reading with children:
• Children who read often and widely get better at it;
• Reading exercises the brain;
• Reading improves concentration;
• Reading teaches children about the world around them;
• Reading improves vocabulary and language skills;
• Reading develops a child’s imagination;
• Reading helps children to develop empathy;
• Reading is fun;
• Reading is a great way to spend time together;
• Children who read achieve better in school.
Opportunities abound to read to your child. Go to the library. Your library card is free. Check out books and take them home to read to your child.
A library card isn’t required to read to your child at the library, go to story time, or participate in library activities. Visit the library’s Sensory Garden to read in Page’s Path. Or take advantage of the library’s new partnership with Parks and Recreation when you read to your child along Page’s Park Path in Hendrickson Park. And also watch for the new Free Little Libraries coming soon to Ferguson Park and another City park. Free Little Libraries encourage visitors to take a book, read a book, bring one back, and get another. Read the books your child checks out from their school libraries.
Heather Bottoms in her article, “The Greatest Benefit of Reading To Your Child May Surprise You,” https://bookriot.com/2018/04/24/benefit-of-reading-to-your-child/, states, “I suppose I thought reading with my children was something I was doing for them. But now it is clear that I am the one who has benefited the most…Because someday, after many years of your reading to them, they might start reading to you.”
<i>Sue Crites Szostak is the director of the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library. Contact her at email@example.com .</i>