The American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new policy just this week, recommending that parents of young children read aloud to them every day. Not only will reading increase a child’s vocabulary, but it will also strengthen the relationship between the parent and child.
But what they didn’t mention is how much reading to your children helps the parent. The last few days, I’ve been packing and organizing like crazy, preparing for a move in two weeks. I feel tired and irritable at the end of the day, but before bed, I read a chapter of Charlotte’s Web to my four and six-year-old kids.
While I feel a little humorless as I sit down and start to read with them, my children think I’m pretty funny. That’s the thing about little kids is that they think about everything’s funny. You don’t even have to try very hard, and they make you feel like Jimmy Fallon. The presence of my children snuggled close to me, leaning in to look at the pictures, relaxes me, and I even start to get a little silly with them.
We read about the dear little Fern who saves the pig, Wilbur. She’s so twitterpated with her little pig that when her teacher asks her what the capital of Pennsylvania is, Fern dreamily answers, “Wilbur.”
Ricky and Deborah seem a little lost with this part of the story, and they only become more lost when I try to explain what a state capital is. Finally, I say, “Ricky, it’s like your teacher asks, ‘What’s 2 + 2?’ and you say ‘Wilbur.’” Ricky and Deborah burst into laughter, like that was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.
Then Ricky says, “Oh! It’s like my teacher asks, ‘What’s 3 + 3?’ and I say, ‘Wilbur.’” Deborah just busted up again, and neither one could stop laughing.
Deborah said, “It’s like, my teacher says, ‘What’s 4 + 4?’ and I say, ‘Wilbur.’” The potential for this joke was infinite. Literally infinite, but fortunately, we didn’t take it that far.
Last night we read about how one of Wilbur’s favorite activities is rooting. I asked the children if they knew what it meant to root. “Nope.” I buried my head in Deborah’s leg and started “rooting.” She laughed hysterically and then Ricky wanted me to go rooting on his leg.
When Wilbur was a sad little lonely pig, I said to Deborah, “Oh Debi, I wish you could be in the story with Wilbur. You would be such a good friend to him.” Deborah nodded her head solemnly.
“Hey, I know what we should do,” I said. “We should teleport you into the book. Wanna try?” She smiled and then I pushed her head into the open book. “Huh,” I said, as she giggled. “It’s not working. Let me try with Ricky.” I smashed Ricky’s head into the book, and to my surprise, we couldn’t teleport him either. Hopefully, Wilbur heard our laughter and maybe that cheered him up a bit.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I need the silliness, the intimacy, the closeness as much as my children do.
How has reading to your children helped you?
What book have you loved reading with your children?