Friday, November 5, 2010

Cultivating a Love of Reading

As parents, we’re in things for the long run. That includes having long term goals and visions which we can gradually fulfill. Ever since we got engaged, Ben and I have enjoyed talking through our philosophies and goals, and how we’ll reach them. One of many goals is for our children to love reading. While it’s certainly not the most important goal, we feel like it will also help us foster and develop some of our other long-term goals, as well. We believe it’s a form of entertainment which provides wonderful brain-food; a couple other (even more) significant reasons are the family relationships reading aloud binds and strengthens, and the character growth that happens through reading high quality literature.

Since getting married, Ben and I have tried to do a fair amount of read-alouds during our home nights. It’s been a really fun activity- but as we’ve chosen meatier fiction, with aspiration-worthy characters (and some characters you’d never want to be classified as!), I was really surprised to notice at one point how much it’s changing me. I realized that although there was no lesson or lecture, the lives of the characters was naturally affecting mine, my ideas, and my desire to live as a better person. It was really neat to see that tangibly- and it also brought to mind the importance of only selecting the best literature for your family. For better or worse, it will infiltrate their minds and ideas.

Viviana is about 5 months old now, and while she’s been a part of me and Ben’s read-alouds since birth, in the past two or so months, I’ve started reading specifically to her. She’s attentive enough to enjoy the pictures, and I’m enjoying exploring old favorites. Some have asked me why I bother, since she’s so little, and commented that she doesn’t understand it anyway. I think babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for, but even if she doesn’t understand the story itself, she’s getting several great things out of it:

1) She’s getting time with her mama (or daddy, as the case may be), snuggling and listening to my voice. She’s learning that I enjoy taking part in her life and interacting with her.

2) She’s hearing a wide vocabulary of words- more than I might think to use in a regular conversation. Babies are good listeners, and Viviana’s already building a stellar vocabulary, even if she hasn’t started actually talking with words.

3) It’s providing training ground. As she grows up being read to, she doesn’t know anything different, as is learning to enjoy it. It’ll be a natural part of her life- not something we suddenly spring on when we feel like she’s old enough to get “everything” out of a book.

4) I might as well be honest….there’s also a great benefit in it for me- it provides an excellent excuse to read my favorite children’s books and check out 100s of the ones we don’t have yet from the library. J

Right now, Viviana and I are reading a Bible story book, Winnie-the-Pooh (the real thing, not the fake fluff!), and various other picture books continuously acquired from the library, or taken from our bookshelf. I’m thinking about assembling a list to share of some of our favorites- what are your favorite children's books?

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