I am the perfect example of why we should read to our kids. Yesterday, on the way to the book store, something hit me that I’ve known now for years. Decades even. I really love books. I look forward to a trip to the book store the same way I look forward to sitting down with a much loved, much missed old friend. (See? I promised I’d return to usual form soon!)
As a kid, one of the best things my mom or dad could tell me was: “Let’s go to the library today.” That meant an hour or two spent amidst the stacks, breathing in the scents of thoughts and dreams committed to paper, choosing a few or ten to stumble to the checkout desk with, anticipation mingled with impatience to begin.
As a new mom, I could be found Tuesday and Thursday mornings at story-time, sitting on the carpet with the other parents, snuggly baby on my lap, watching with rapt attention as the librarian narrated The Pokey Little Puppy with zest and props. Both my kids learned, starting at six months or so and continuing on up to double digits, about the fantastic worlds that live inside of books.
As a parent of teens, I’ve returned to discovering new worlds of my own while helping my kids find that perfect book, that great adventure or the best pick from a suggested reading list. Yesterday at the book store, my daughter vacillated between One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and A Separate Peace. I pushed for The Picture of Dorian Gray or Anna Karenina, but my daughter knows what she likes. In this case, she chose the excitement and drama of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The title doesn't matter. Our tastes and preferences in genre and writing style aren't what counts. The love of reading is the greatest gift my parents gave me. Sitting on that library carpet with my squirmy son, gratified and relieved when a facet of the story would catch his attention or his sister would don a raccoon puppet to illustrate for him A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, my motive was pretty basic. I wasn't thinking of higher literature, or AP English courses, or even of whether my kids would grow up to love reading. I was carrying on a tradition from my own childhood, something I loved, both as a child and as a parent. Who doesn't love a good story?
That phrase, “on the way to the bookstore,” what feelings that evokes in me. I like to think it’s the same for others. On a day to day basis, there are a handful of things that make us smile, things that we look forward to with anticipation and happiness, knowing once we’re immersed, we’ll sink into the experience contentedly, at home. The best parallel I can draw is to that feeling I get when I know I've got a lunch date, or better yet, maybe a concert date, with a close friend. Much needed, much awaited, nourishment for my soul. Also found between the pages of a good book.