There are things you do as a parent because you think you’re supposed to do them. And there are things you do because you enjoy doing them.
For me, reading aloud to (and with) my children is one of those things that falls into both of these categories.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love books. In fact, I’ve built much of this blog around it. I love words, language and communication, and books (and reading and writing) are a natural extension of that.
So I read with my children all the time. And, whether it’s because of genetics or conditioning, nature or nurture, my kids love books too.
Books allow you to do things with your children that you will never get to do. Together, we’ve ridden broomsticks. We’ve fought dragons. We’ve huffed and puffed, and had hair on our chinny-chin-chins. We’ve cast spells and eaten chocolate trees.
|Images from the following books: Room on the Broom,
The Reluctant Dragon, Numbers, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Books reflect your lives in their pages. Together, we’ve brushed our teeth before going to bed. We’ve learnt to tell the time. We’ve danced (an approximation of) ballet and hugged and hugged and hugged (and hugged and hugged and hugged).
|Images from: The Going to Bed Book, How to Catch a Star,
Be a Ballet Dancer!, I Love my Mum, I Love to Hug You, Look at You!,
Charlie the Chimney Sweep, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Peepo!
Books teach you about the world beyond your house and activities. Together, we’ve heard elephants trumpet and lions roar. We’ve taught farm animals what they’re supposed to say. We’ve been to Edinburgh and Buckingham Palace, and seen caterpillars become butterflies.
|Images from: Hello Baby!, Muddled-Up Farm, Greyfriars Bobby,
There’s Always Pooh and Me, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Books encourage language development. The repetition of words, and the rhythm and cadence of storytelling, particularly of rhyme, make it fun. The introduction of new words, the discussion of concepts and the questions that follow make it stick. Language, vocabulary and imagination grow.
My children are almost-four and just-turned-one. We are still in picture book land. Almost-four-year-old and I have read some thin chapter books – Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, Julia Donaldson’s Dinosaur Diaries – but we’re still years away from visiting Narnia, Hogwarts or Middle Earth. Luckily we’ve got the Magic Faraway Tree to climb before then. I’m almost embarrassed about how much I’m looking forward to it all. Almost.
Then the day will come when I’m told I’m no longer required to read aloud. The day my children will select their own books, sit down, and immerse themselves in other worlds without my accompanying presence.
It will be bittersweet. But I’ll be so proud. I think that helping my children to enjoy reading is one of the greatest gifts I can give them. If they can find pleasure in reading, they will never be bored.<
I read because I’m supposed to. I read because I want to. Most of all, I read because I can. Because sharing this gift with my children just feels so good.
How important is reading with your children to you? What are your favourite books to read together?