The magazines and newspapers are filled with statistics how reading to your children has a very strong positive effect on their lives. They tend to grow up valuing reading more and they tend to be more curious and more anxious to learn. I read to my children. I started reading to them long before I heard these statistics. It never occurred to me to read to my children because it would make them smarter. I read to my children simply because it was fun!
Many of the books I read to them are books I read as a child. What a joy it is to have the opportunity to read these books again with the new eyes of my children. I was almost giddy when I brought home “A Wrinkle in Time.” I still have images in my mind from that book from my first reading nearly 40 years ago. But not all the books I read to them have I read before. For some reason I ended up with a copy of “The Fellowship of the Ring” from the “Lord of the Ring” series and started reading it to my then six year old son. My four-year-old son listened in although he usually fell asleep. What a wonderful experience we had traveling together through Middle-Earth. I discovered my four-year-old was listening when one day I heard him say “my precious” while he was playing by himself in the living room.
My three sons are grown, now, and out of the home. But I have the five younger children and am getting to read them all my favorite books all over again. At the same time we are discovering new books and experiencing them for the first time together. The “Abhorsen” series had us staying up late for several weeks. “Saffy’s Angel” and the follow up books on the Casson family charmed us. We grew closer as a family with “Homecoming” and the other books involving the Tillerman family. Of course we thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series. We read the “Golden Compass” series long before the hubaloo about the movie came about. Reading out-loud to my family had created some of the best memories I have.
Currently I am reading three different books with three different children. With my ten-year-old son I am reading “The Secret Garden.” It is a classic written long ago. Its power remains and my son is enthralled with the images of sickly Mary, the moor, the long corridors, and, of course, the secret garden. My twelve-year-old daughter and I are reading “River Secrets” by Shannon Hale. We’ve already been through “Goose Girl” and “Enna Burning.” My seven-year-old daughter and I are traveling through the enchanted, but dangerous, world of “Fablehaven.”
It takes time to read so many books at once. I can’t read to each child every night. Our house is not a clockwork house and so there is never a set pattern to the schedule. I end up reading to whoever is still awake and ready to be read to when my other evening activities have ended. Tonight it was my ten-year-old and “The Secret Garden.” Mary Quite Contrary is finally getting a bit healthier from playing in the cold moor air outside. For the first time she found an appetite and ate all her porridge. Amid the “wuthrin’” of the wind she heard a cry from down the hall. I can’t wait for the next chapter.