Upon marriage, my husband and I were polar opposites when it came to reading. I came from a family of readers and writers…the TV was rarely on in our house–we didn’t even own a VCR until the 90’s. My parents have a vast library, yes, a real room lined with bookshelves floor to ceiling, of fiction and non-fiction titles reflecting their great love of the written word, and I’ve had a lifetime exposure to it. I’m sure my ‘bookish background’ is one of the main reasons grammar, spelling and writing were such an enjoyment to me in my K-12 years. As an adult, my reading has self-educated me on many topics of interest, as I gather resources to make smart decisions for my family. Whether on nutrition, herbal remedies, homesteading, homeschooling, organic gardening, autism, ADHD–books hold the key to educating yourself…yes, the internet is a great tool–but you have to be serious about reading there too, in order to filter through to the right information. TV can teach, but it doesn’t compare. You’d have to watch hours and hours of educational programming to replace the pages of a single book.
So not only do we want our children to love reading to succeed in school…we want them to love reading to excel in life!
My husband agrees with me. In contrast to my childhood, his didn’t hold any special emphasis on reading. Neither of his parents had any interest in reading for enjoyment, and whether indirectly or directly, my husband also had no desire to read. He spent many quality hours outside riding ponies and being daddy’s helper, but his indoor hours were usually spent playing, drawing, or watching favorite TV shows. It took my husband several years of marriage before he gave reading for enjoyment a chance. He still would rather thumb through a magazine, but he sees the value of reading, and wishes it didn’t come so hard for him to sit there and *want* to read.
#1 reason to read aloud to your child to promote a love of reading:
God’s Word. An adult that has never learned to love reading, will have a really hard time sitting down to read the Bible and make sense of it. This is SO sad. In this whiz-bang modern age of ours, most children are conditioned to fast paced TV, video games and constant action…sitting for an hour in church puts them to sleep or drives them crazy, why would they want to read a black-and-white book with no pictures? If they love to read anyway, they’ll be more likely to open the Bible and reap the benefits of a real relationship with their Creator.
- Reading is a gentle activity that keeps brains engaged and imaginations soaring, while promoting problem solving, concentration, wonder at a number of fascinating people, places and events.
- Reading provides background knowledge on a number of topics. Between the covers of any book you can experience life in any country, on the moon or under the sea, as a mailman or a scientist or a factory worker.
- Reading builds vocabulary. This is a biggie. No explanation required!
- Children who love to read become naturals at writing stories of their own. The rich language patterns they’ve heard from childhood read-alouds translate naturally, as does proper story structure. Clauses and conjunctions and modifiers and all the strictures of the “printed word” aren’t a big hang-up, because they’ve been exposed to well-written sentences from a very young age.
Reading, as I tell my kiddos, builds “strong brain muscles”, whereas, watching TV builds “fat pig muscles”.
I’m not advocating a couch potato lifestyle here. In fact, the polar opposite lifestyles reflected by my husband’s and my upbringings had both positives and negatives. Hubby was raised actively, in a hard-working family. He was probably handing tools to his daddy from toddlerhood on up. As a result, he’s able to fix anything, build anything, create and problem solve pretty much anything. Don’t give him a manual to read, he doesn’t need it!
I’m much more likely to want to while away an afternoon with a good read. Definitely was accused of being a bookworm as a young girl. So many good books, so much time out the window never to be recaptured.
So try for the happy medium. A love of reading isn’t always easily instilled, but it’s becoming a lost art in these days of fast food living.
If you’ve ever wanted to see just how much wealth you can find in one children’s book…check out a book such as “The Story About Ping” by Marjorie Flack, and read it to your child every single day for a week. Learn about China, the Yangtze River, Ducks, bouyancy, water safety, houseboat life, consequences of disobedience, awesome artwork, etc. And if you need direction in how to go about reading in this way, check out Jane Claire Lambert’s Five In A Row series. Volume 1 covers everything you need to know to enjoy “The Story About Ping”, among many other classics.