Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Please Read To Small Children

This poster was a definite Aha! moment for me. Subconsciously, I'm sure I already knew this, but here it is in print. A terrific reminder to all who have small children. It's also a trigger to memories of long ago. 

Think about it--when we read to a small child, we're usually in a very comfortable situation. Curled up together in a chair or on the sofa, or even on a bed. The child has the warm touch of someone they love and trust while those soothing words trickle down to them as mom, dad, or a grandparent reads to them. It's a safe place, a pleasant time, a special time. 

It's no wonder that we then come to associate reading and books as a part of all that. But what about the child who doesn't like reading once they acquire the skill at school? Does it mean they didn't have a parent who lovingly read to them in the very early years? No, it does not. But there are children who would never pick up a book to read on their own. It's a big question with few answers.

I think that those who do love books definitely continue to associate those loving times with an adult reading to them as part of the book/reading experience. Without realizing it, we practice the theory of Pavlova's dog when we establish a reading pattern with our young children. Pavlova's dog theory is nothing more than learning something through conditioning. 

One memorable reading session with a child has stayed with me. When our two youngest grandchildren were 3 and 6, they were spending the Thanksgiving holiday at our house. I had bought a children's book about the First Thanksgiving. I showed it to them when we were in the kitchen. They were seated on stools at the counter and I was standing on the opposite side of the counter. "Read it to us, Grandma," Jordan, the 6 year old said. 

So, I opened to the first page and began to read. When I looked up before turning the page, I noticed that 3 year old Cole was staring intently at me and the book. Each time I turned the page, I took note that Cole's attention never waned, he ketp listening intently, an occasional frown on his face during the tense moments of the story. When it all ended well, the relief on his face was clear and a broad smile came with it. 

Did he love the story? Or did he love that Grandma devoted some special time to him? Did he feel the love? Maybe a bit of all of the above. Either way it was a win-win situation and a special time for me, too.

I read to my children on a regular basis and so have my children done with their own. I continued to read to my children when we took long road trips. It helped the long hours in the car go by a little faster and it brought back what had been a special time for us when they were much younger. They're both in their forties now and I doubt they'd consider having Mama read to them now, but maybe they remembered how special it was when they continued the practice with their own children. 

There's no guarantee that reading to a child early on will make them love books, but it's most likely that it can be extremely beneficial to all involved in the process. Take time out of your busy life to read to a child whenever possible. 

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