One of the most valuable gifts a parent can give to a child is the gift of reading. Of course, in time not all kids are going to become “readers.” It’s a bit of a personal preference and you can’t make a child love reading. But by reading to them regularly when they are young, you can build a foundation that will help them be better thinkers, do better in school, have a wider knowledge base, and perhaps even discover the love of reading for themselves. Plus you'll get to go on amazing adventures together (and avoid a lot of television time!).
Growing up, I loved the bedtime stories my mom read to my siblings and me. I vividly remember hearing the story of Dr. Doolittle. That memory inspired me to make reading a huge part of my kids’ childhood. Every night after dinner, we stayed around the table, or sat on the back deck in summertime, or moved into the living room to lounge more comfortably, and Jason and I read books out loud. We read books and series including Little House on the Prairie, Narnia, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Anne of Green Gables, Swiss Family Robinson, The Great Turkey Walk, Treasure Island, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The list goes on and on of titles that we read, books that are perfect for family reading. It was fabulous family together-time and we got to go to fascinating places and experience wondrous adventures together.
One time, when the kids were almost one-year-old, they were gathered around Marge Meeker, one of my “Quad Squad” volunteers. Marge had been battling cancer, but even in the midst of treatments and exhaustion, she kept coming over to help with the kids. She’d been with us since they’d come home from the hospital, sometimes when she was at her weakest and sickest, but she came and held babies. She said it was the best therapy in the world for her. This particular day, Marge was on our sofa reading a book, with all four kids nestled in around her—one on her lap, one on each side, and Charlie squeezed in behind his seated sibling, standing up and leaning on Marge’s side to see the pages better. Everyone was engrossed in the story, except for Charlie, who was being a typical toddler exploring his world. He was patting Marge’s head and playing with her ear. Then suddenly, as toddlers are known to do, he pulled her hair. And her entire head of hair came off in his hand! She was wearing a wig over her bald chemo head. Charlie freaked out, having never seen such a sight. But Marge laughed and laughed, being the very good-natured, loving person that she was. I don’t think Charlie ever pulled hair again. And after that, when Marge arrived to help, she’d just take off her wig, saying how hot and uncomfortable that thing was and how glad she was to get it off.
Marge passed away three years later. I’m grateful for her gift to us—her time and love, holding them, reading to them—and especially laughing so freely when silly things happened like Charlie pulling her hair off.
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