The morning hustle: head down getting everyone up and out the door with little time to wrap my head around what is really important to me on this day. Dashing out the door with totes, lunches, and kids in tow we zip to the highway for the first drop-off on the last week of summer camps. Music on, conversations fragmented and a red light finally offers me the first brief moment I get to pause. On this particular day, the pause at what my daughters call “the longest light” is suddenly so worth it.
“Mom, what book do you think that mom is reading to her daughter?” I look over and marvel that through the oncoming traffic and nestled into a bus shelter surrounded by the hedge greening the road my daughter notices a mother and daughter quietly reading; so focused they don’t hear or realize life whizzing by them. What a way to start the day. I am reminded that it only takes a few moments to make a meaningful connection with your child. Sitting closely, turning the pages, and discussing the story, I thought to myself “what an opportunity to connect.”
The green light sets us back on our way but I stayed in the right hand lane with the slower traffic so I could spend a little more time with my kids today. We talked about the summer library program and how we needed to catch up since we didn’t read as much while on vacation. My eldest daughter reminded her sister of the book she’s suggested, and for once my youngest agrees it might be time to try a “bigger” book. She asked if I would sit with her to read it in the beginning in case she had trouble with some of the words or understanding the story. I agreed.
For the next ten or so minutes we named all the books we could remember reading. We shared our favorite books we had read together as kids, and I shared the book my mom gave me years ago repeating what she wrote on the inside cover. I still cherish the message today.
Reading is essential to the positive upbringing of a child. The benefits are never ending but a few important ones come to mind:
1. The opportunity to snuggle up and physically connect – using your voice to put life into the story, hands to depict characters and scenes all add to the magic of the moment.
2. Left to right – run your finger along the page as you read and you help your child understand that’s the way to read a book. Read then discuss the illustrations to teach visual storytelling. Sometimes words and pictures are different but it’s interesting how they can tell the same story.
3. Engaging your child’s imagination excites verbal skills – repeating words, and asking questions will spark conversation and help your child form complete sentences as well as learn new words daily.
4. Academic excellence – it’s probably the number one goal most parents have when they think of their child’s future. Research shows early reading moments will help students perform better in school.
5. Interpersonal relationships – all stories are based on relationships and the opportunity to learn through imaginative stories will help young children build basic skills for positive interpersonal relationships.
There are more reasons to read together and LeVar Burton is probably the biggest champion of reading to children. Research continues to validate the benefits at every age and stage of a child’s early brain development.
I could spend hours reading through this research but inspired by the mother and daughter sitting at the bus stop I’d rather turn the page with my own children and create a story or two of our own. What is your favorite childhood book – share with us on Facebook or start reading today with your children.