When my first child came into the world, thankfully my mother was present to help me. In no time, she corrected a major deficiency in my parenting skills.
“Talk to your baby. Don’t be silent. The baby needs to hear your voice.”
From then on, I talked to my baby about everything from bathing and dressing, feeding and what happened in the world. My husband and I soon established a routine at bedtime — another of my mother’s wise suggestions. Regardless of where we were in the world, we stuck to a routine: bath, bedtime, read a book, down for the “night.”
By the time our third baby arrived, bedtime had become an assembly line marathon. No matter how old the child, each had a turn in Daddy’s lap reading a book of their choice while Mommy prepared the next in line for their turn or nursed the newborn.
This summer, my business group promoted the opportunity to participate in an ongoing reading program for children of all ages. “Reading Rocks” is held in the city’s parks, every day over a six-week period. I volunteered to read with or to a child one day each week in the park closest to my workplace. Literacy is one of the necessary fundamental skills. Reading with my children proved to be essential to their education and future employment.
Today, July 25th, is my last reading session. Most of the children participating in “Reading Rocks” are enrolled in summer daycare programs while their parents are at work. Some of the children have no experience of hearing a story or reading with their parents or other adult.
I gained as much from the program as the children, from encouraging a group of middle school boys to make up their own story based on a title one of the boys had misread, reading to a little girl who was as interested in telling me her story, making the acquaintance of an armadillo from the local zoo and a border collie trained to assist PTSD sufferers.
I was reminded of the many hours I had spent with my children and how rewarding those hours were, especially in terms of the gift of time.
Thanks to my experienced mother, reading and routine were regularities that established reliability in their young years. There’s more to raising children than reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.
Perhaps one or two of these young readers will become writers. Story-telling certainly came into my life at a very young age from hearing my mother and father read aloud and tell their own tales.