By day, I’m an early childhood educator in my in-home family childcare program. Currently, I teach 5 children, ages 1 to 4 ½. Our days are filled with many educational, hands-on activities to help them to develop and grow.
One of our favorite daily activities is reading. I have shelves and baskets of books. I have boxes of books tucked away because there’s no room for them. I have books stacked in totes to use with specific lessons.
We have our morning reading time after our circle time. During that time, we read books that are specific to our learning theme for that month. Then, once we finish lunch and settle down for naptime, we read different books that help us to learn empathy, manners, imagination, or just plain how to have fun. Once naptime ends, we have quiet reading time while I prepare their snack.
Books have been a mainstay in my house for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories as a child is my mom reading us Bible stories before bed. Those planted seeds encouraged me to grow in God’s love and grace and helped me to love reading. I loved Nancy Drew mysteries, most everything written by the beloved Beverly Cleary, tween angsty books by Judy Blume, and then First Love by Silhouette novels when I was a teen.
Because of one particular book, I became a writer. Without that lifelong love of reading, I may have chosen a different career path. Granted, that particular book may not have been appropriate for a sixteen-year-old girl, but it sparked a passion to create the same happily ever after heart sigh I experienced upon completing that novel.
When my husband and I learned we were pregnant with our first child, one of our baby purchases was a set of children’s books. I read to my boys when they were infants.
When our oldest was a toddler, he didn’t have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal at bedtime—he chose books. He grabbed a few board books and climbed into his big boy bed. His love of reading continued through school where he won reading awards and participated in programs like Battle of the Books.
Our youngest son loved being read to, but in his early elementary years, we learned he had a reading comprehension issue. Thankfully, he had gentle reading specialists who encouraged him to overcome that difficulty. In third grade, he read his first book from cover to cover—Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. In addition to being well written, that series will always stay close to my heart because it enabled my son to do something he hadn’t done before—escape into the pages of a novel and understand what he was reading.
Raising children to love reading begins from early childhood. Studies have proven many benefits to reading to children including improved receptive and expressive language—the words they understand and the words they speak, positive bonding experiences with caregivers, calming to a child’s active body, improved thinking skills, etc. The list of benefits is too long to list in this post, but I think you get the idea.
Most county libraries have awesome reading programs for children. Many early education programs offer free books to families. Different communities participate in book programs. Books make great gifts for birthdays and holidays. Dollar stores offer great books at low prices.
Reading opens doors to a child’s imagination and invites him on a journey that will encourage positive development and growth for the rest of his life.
Your Turn: What was your favorite book as a child? What is your favorite childhood reading memory? How has reading to your children or a child you know impacted him or her?