Family Life: Reading is Fun
By Diane Burton
Did you know March is National Reading Month?
Somewhere, in a tiny crevasse of my mind, I knew that but had forgotten until my grandchildren reminded me when I asked for their help with this blog. So, looks like my topic this month is right on target. I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I remember summers after I finished chores, I would take a quilt and a book and find a shady spot to read. As an adult, I read as often as I could. Now, I don’t go to sleep without reading a page or two, chapter or three or four. LOL A really good book will keep me turning pages way into the early hours of morning.
Growing up, we didn’t have many books. My grandmother belonged to a book club and always gave us a book for Christmas. She even gave my sister and I a set of books called My Book House, twelve books that corresponded (sort of) to grades. Mom read the beginning books to me and my six brothers and sisters so much that the pages began falling out of the first two books with nursery rhymes and fairy tales. I continued to read the other books—myths and legends, knights and kings, princesses and heroines. Even after sixty-plus years, books 3 to 12 look barely read. Since I was the only one to read those books, Mom gave them to me. My daughter read them and now my oldest grandchild (10 ½ years old) reads them. The bookmobile came around to our school every two weeks. I couldn’t wait.
Reading is such an integral part of their own lives that daughter and son-in-law have always read to their children. They even read to their children while in utero. Son-in-law read his pathology textbooks aloud and daughter would read children’s literature (the focus for her master’s degree). As babies, the two (now 8 and 10 ½) were read to each night. Now, they read by themselves. It was a little disconcerting when grandson told me he’d rather read a story himself because I read too slowly. Daughter has a rule about movies made from books. They can’t watch a movie until they’ve read the book. That’s why they haven’t seen A Wrinkle in Time yet. Darn. I wanted to go with them. (Hubs doesn’t care for fantasy.)
My son is a reader, when he has time. With working 10-12 hours/day, the twins (now four months old), and Toddler Girl, the only reading he manages is to TG before bed. Daughter-in-law used to listen to books during her commute when they lived in Phoenix. Since her “commute” is down the stairs to her home office now, she’s not reading as much. Working at home plus the aforementioned children makes finding time to read difficult, except for TG’s bedtime. I read to the twins and TG whenever we’re there, just as I read to the older grandkids.
The library is excellent for obtaining books to read as well as different events geared to children, like story time, or summer reading programs. I belong to a book club and often get the e-book from my library.
Why the emphasis on reading? Children are mimics. When read to (and talked to) as babies, they hear language. That’s how they form their own language. As they get older, and are read to, they hear new words in context and can figure out their meaning and their vocabulary grows. The enjoyment of reading increases. Our oldest grandson was so bummed that he was the only one in his family who couldn’t read, he taught himself to read before kindergarten. (Have I ever mentioned he’s competitive?) Kids who see their parents (and grandparents) read will read themselves. This stretches their imagination. Oldest granddaughter mentioned that sometimes she’s disappointed in movies made from books because the actors aren’t what she imagined, and they leave out too many scenes. (My complaint, too.)
Sometimes, reading isn’t enough. They like to make up their own stories. Kids have powerful imaginations. To capitalize on that, I helped the older grandkids write their own stories, using a fantastic free online program from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh called My StoryMaker. Using graphics and hints, children are led through the creation of a story. Before they had keyboarding classes at school, they told me what to type, then chose the graphics to illustrate the story. Afterward, I printed out their creation and helped them form it into a book, which they proudly showed their parents. I can’t wait to do this with Toddler Girl. She’s just about the right age.
As a teacher, I always read to my students, even the sixth graders (at that time, part of elementary school). I recall reading A Wrinkle in Time, The Hobbit, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When I taught younger kids, I read Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and so many more.
The importance of reading can’t be overemphasized. Besides reading for pleasure, every subject in school requires reading. If kids can’t read, how can they succeed in social studies, history, and math? Reading to children, from infancy on, is a great start. No matter the age, it’s never too late to begin reading.
About the Author
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website.
You can read Diane's "Family Life" column on the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.
Don't forget to save the date of Saturday, March 24th which is our online party here at the magazine.
We'll be hosting a chat in the forum, sharing interviews with our monthly columnists, and giving away prizes in our drawing. We hope you stop by to join the party!