Archive for the ‘Reading’ category

If You Read a Child a Story

February 20, 2010

I cannot remember a time when stories and books were not a part of my life.  I recall the years when, on hearing the garage door open and our Jack Russell Terrier mutt start yelping and racing all over the house like she was going to explode with joy, both announcing that my father was home, I would hurry to the bookshelf and pull out two or three books.  When Daddy had finished putting his briefcase away and kissing Mom, I and my younger siblings, each with books in hand, would run to him and we would head to the couch for story time.

Dad usually picked no more than three of the books we brought, all short ones, to read.  He still had to take his nap before supper, after all!  But he always read at least one or two.  We children would snuggle as close as we could get, listening to Daddy’s voice bring the story to life in a way not even pictures could do.  We especially loved it when he voiced the characters differently, giving the story yet another dimension and sending us into giggles.

When he had finished, we slipped away to play again until supper was ready, but at bedtime, we gathered at the couch again, more books in hand.  This time Daddy could read longer books, but he still must have kept an eye on the clock so that he sent us to bed on time.

In later years, Daddy still read to us.  As we got older, however, he started reading series like “The Sugar Creek Gang” books and C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia.”  Later still, my mother would give him books which related to what we were all studying in history or literature: “Johnny Tremain,” “Carry on, Mr. Bowditch,” “David Copperfield,” “Captains Courageous,” “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and “Moby Dick.”  We would listen spellbound, always wanting more when it was time to go to bed, never wanting the stories to end.

I have missed this storytelling element in my life ever since graduating from highschool.  That year, we made a change in our bedtime rituals.  Dad still reads to my youngest brothers, who are fifth graders, but he does other activities with my sister, other brother, and me.  While we all enjoy doing projects and talking with him, sometimes I wonder if either my brother or sister misses the sound of Dad reading to us.  I know I do, though I would not go back to those days if I could.  The memory of them is bright in my mind, and that may be better than the reality was.

If I remember nothing else about my childhood, I am always going to remember books.  I learned to read a whole year before I started kindergarten, and it has been hard to keep me in books ever since.  Books take me everywhere, and teach me many things.  I even learned how to tat (a specific kind of lace) from a book!  Now when thinking of gifts for a new baby or young children, I often think of my childhood favorites and say, “Let’s give him If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or Are You My Mother?” or any one of two dozen others.  The books we love in childhood go with us throughout life, and the voices of the people who read them to us will stay in our memories just as long.

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