Monday, October 24, 2011

Reading: What Parents can Do

I don't have the answer to perfect parenting but I can tell you about my personal experience with reading. As a very young child it was my father who read to the the children every night. It was a good memory. He was a carpentar and I still like the smell of sawdust and sweat that I remember as we snuggled in close to his flannel shirt every night. He read Aesop's Fables, Black Beauty, poems from the Childcraft book and many others. Even now, I recite in my mind, poetry from my childhood to help me sleep. As we got older he read Little Women and Little Men.
I read to my oldest at naptime and that is how I discovered he needed glasses. As the girls got older, they could each choose a book and I would read it to them in front of the fire every night. They chose "Little Women" ,"Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the biography of Helen Keller and my youngest and her Dad read "Emily's Runaway Imagination". Every once in a while I would see my Junior High son peeking around the corner and listening. I think it helped the whole family.
When the children were young (preschool and early elementary) we went to the city library regularly. (I liked the paintings you could check out and hang great art in your home. Every month our family was exposed to a new artist.) When the family got older and had reading homework every night, I offered to do a childs chore assignment, the dishes, while they read to me. I can still remember reading to my mother in first grade. I thought she was enamored with "Dick and Jane".
It is important to let children read what they're interested in first. My son read encyclopedias and joke books. I would have never guessed what he liked or where his interests were. Later you can encourage other books and you can suggest your own ideas for reading.
Sometimes I read a book to the family when we rode in the car on long trips. One time we read a book when the kids were teen-agers. We had not quite finished the book by the time we arrived home. The power was out at home but everyone was so interested in the story that we sat around a candle at the kitchen table and finished the book before we unpacked. It was a family memory I will treasure.
Now, I write a story every year to give to the grandkids along with a new pair of pajamas. I don't know if the stories are good or if they even get read but I guess it is better than underwear.
I don't think we had the only good reading ideas but it is nice to see the grandkids love to read and have their own reading interests.

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