For the Love of Reading

I love books. I love to read. I always have. Undoubtedly, growing up in a house filled with books (Dad was a history teacher) made reading accessible. Having books around doesn’t guarantee a love of reading. I know, because neither my mother nor my brothers are avid readers. They read of necessity, but don’t pick up a book “just because.”

Through my daughter, I have rediscovered a love of reading children’s books. Before she was born, I started collecting books for her. Not to teach her to read, but to have something we could share together, forever. As she grows, so does her library. I periodically thin her shelves, but it is hard to let go of a treasured moment. How can I possibly give away Time for Bed by Mem Fox? We read it at naps and at bedtime for a year. And what about Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton? We had that little dance we did with “jamma jamma jamma jamma PJs.”

teddySo I saved all of her favorite board books, rationalizing that they would come in handy as easy readers. Now, I’m afraid, even that isn’t enough … and while I have given many away, there are a few I just can’t give up. I have moved them into my office and they’ve become a “display.” A 3-D version of a snapshot in time, with memories I can play over any time I’m feeling nostalgic or need a boost. One day, they will be the beginnings of a new library.

Even as we have moved on to more complex stories, the pattern remains the same. Some days we explore new places, other days we revisit old friends.  Together, we learn and share. But there are little changes. Now, Catherine is not always content to just listen. She wants to share together, reading an entire story herself, or sharing a book as reading partners. New, treasured memories.

What I have learned by watching Catherine and her peers in our community is that children who have books come to reading with their insatiable appetite for learning still in tact. I have watched struggling readers literally jump for joy and run around the room to hug their teacher because they were just given a brand new book to call their own. The closest we will ever come to bottling a sense of personal joy is to perpetuate it. Kids need books at home.

As I was putting together my thoughts about my own love of children’s books, I could not let go of this idea: there is only one letter that separates ONE from OWN. Every child should OWN at least ONE book.

Will every child love to read just because she has a book? No. My brothers are a testament to that. Still, they had the opportunity to discover books, they could see that learning to read was important, and in almost every room of our house they could pick up the tool they needed to develop their skills. Today, they are successful business owners who buy books for their children and encourage them to read.

If children don’t have easy access to books, how will they know whether they like reading or not? If you have children’s books to share, please consider contacting a literacy organization in your community to find a way to donate. There is a new, eager audience for the stories your children cherished. When a child owns a book … just one book … the possibilities are endless.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: For the Love of Reading
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Head over to Lynn Hazen’s Imaginary Blog for the February Carnival of Children’s Literature.

photo credits: – Diner Dog (She Likes to Read – child sleeping with book) – J Pride (Annabelle’s Toes help her read El Rinoceronte Rojo) – Amanda (Reading – toddler reading novel)
Microsoft Office clipart: mother/child photographs, dad/sons photograph
Lynn Hazen – [heart] Kidlit and “We Love Children’s Books”
personal photographs

4 responses to “For the Love of Reading

  1. This is lovely, Terry! I especially like this point: “If children don’t have easy access to books, how will they know whether they like reading or not?” Kind of the heart of what The Reading Tub is all about, isn’t it?

  2. There is definitely something about ownership. I think once we are not actually scurrying to survive in a culture, we begin to spend more time gathering. From what I have observed, every child loves to collect things. I too have seen the look of joy on a child’s face when he receives a book, or when he realizes he is learning to read. Such unutterable joy! Although I love libraries, the books they keep allow children to have favourites, the books they read over and over, the ones that become friends.

  3. Because I’m a librarian, I always borrowed armloads of books for my kids – but they also had shelves of their own books, and those are the tattered picture books they wanted to hear over and over again. I occasionally find a favorite old picture book on my 14-year-old daughter’s nightstand! You are so right – owning books is vital. Even one or two.

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