My husband leaned in close. I was 7 months pregnant, and this had become our routine. With one hand on my belly and one on the book, Mark began, “In the great green room, there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.” Every night, he read Good-night, Moon to our yet-to-be-born son. Every night, our baby learned his daddy’s voice.
When Noah was born, the room was chaotic and loud. Our new little one was screaming with all his tiny might. What happened next amazes me. If we did not have this on video, I would not believe it was true.
In the midst of all that noise, I watched my husband come close to our new son, who was being weighed and warmed. I could not hear him but could see him talking and all of a sudden, Noah stopped crying. He turned his head toward his dad and blinked. When Mark came back to check on me, I asked him what he said to Noah to make him stop crying.
“In the great green room,” my husband replied, “there was a telephone…”
On the day of his birth, Noah’s love of reading began. And we have fostered it ever since.
As parents, we are told that we need to read to our kids regularly, and something about the “rule” of that can brush folks the wrong way. Our full lives often do not allow for many moments of quiet and finding time to be still can be challenging.
And yet, children who not only learn to read but learn to love reading find more success as students. Children who sink into books open their minds and imaginations to new places, people and ideas. And children who read regularly understand language and spelling in deeper and more complex ways. Through words and the exploration of stories, children begin to see themselves and their place in God’s greater story. Raising children who read well and enjoy books can give them so many advantages.
With four children in our home, we have learned to approach this in a variety of ways. Our quiet kids love to grab a book and find a cozy spot and settle in. Our busy children were more challenging, and we found that activity books (Pat the Bunny, among others) helped them to be still long enough to enjoy the tale when they were very young.
Yes, life is busy. Yet there is something sweet and calming about sitting down with a child on your lap and a book in your hand. The benefits of reading to our kids reach far beyond their academic success. When we open a book, we are sharing a story that becomes a part of who we are. We are traveling with our kids into an imaginative place that holds secrets and sunsets and fairies and fun, and we are doing it together.
We are making reading something that is worth loving.