Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Reading with Kids is Important

I've been friends with Lisa for almost 15 years.  We were student teachers, new teachers, and new stay-at-home moms together.  We supported our husbands through grad school together while we watched our children grow.  After years of living in the same neighborhood, we now live in different states, but are still friends.  I'm excited to have Lisa and her husband Chris share their thoughts about the importance of reading to our kids...

First off, thanks to Polly for letting me do this guest post.  Second, thanks to my husband for writing it.  I asked for his thoughts and his response was so perfect that I decided I wasn’t going to do it any better.   Here it is:

“Growing up, one of the things that I enjoyed most was pulling a book out of my parents’ collection. I could learn what they found to be important, worth knowing, or just enjoyable. I cherish memories of discovering Shakespeare, learning about the ends of the earth in old National Geographic magazines, finding a battered copy of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and picking up my Mom’s old college Chemistry textbook that started a lifelong love and a career. My parents may never realize the impact they had on me because of the books they kept. 

My love of reading did not start as a teenager – I doubt it could have started then, when parents are no longer cool and books are strongly associated with school. My parents taught me to love reading and books early in life and then I (and they) reaped the benefits of that later in life. I learned to love reading when they read to me and with me, when they gave me a book to read, and when my mother told me she had chosen a special book just for me. In short, although I may have learned to read in school, I learned to love to read at home.

This is what worries me about the decline of books in the home. Reading is essential to success in the modern world: from elementary school, through high school, college, a career, and even into retirement (imagine navigating taxes, health plans, or even just a vacation guide if reading is difficult!). If reading never changes from a chore to a joy, life is a little drearier and much more difficult. There are many well published statistics that demonstrate a link between a low reading level and a low standard of living, likelihood of being arrested, and likelihood of being a repeat offender (US Justice Department Statistics). It has been suggested that much of the trouble children currently have with reading (for example, around two thirds of fourth graders tested below reading proficiency levels according to the 2013 Nation’s Report Card) stems from a lack of books and reading in the home (US Commission on Reading, 1985; Stephen Krashen, 2004; and many others). In other words, one of the most important (and easiest) things you can do to help the children you love have a good life is to help them learn to love to read. So please, read a book with a child tonight (or the next time they come over), encourage a child to read a book you think they will like, or give a child a book that you think they will like. Not only will you make the child’s day, you might also help make their life.”

If you’d like to help make a difference in the life of a child and get amazing books for your own children/grandchildren at the same time, I am partnering with Polly to provide books for the Seattle Children’s Hospital.  For all the details, visit this post.
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Wipe Clean Doodles from Lisa @ Usbourne Books
Drawing,Doodling and Coloring Book from Lisa @ Usbourne Books

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  1. Great post. I can't imagine a life without books/reading. I have fabulous childhood memories of my Dad reading Alice in Wonderland and other books to us, as I got older I remember getting a new book each Saturday morning and not getting out of bed till I had read it. Now I cherish my kindle/ipad/iphone as I can carry books with me all the time, both for me and my little boys. I have read with them since they were born and they, like me, love books.

  2. Your guest author reminded me of my own childhood - National Geographic, visiting the library every Saturday, gobbling chapter books late at night under the covers with a flashlight (I am sure my mom must have known, but she let me think I was getting away with something). Being immersed in lots and lots of books - the physicality of them - the feel of the pages, the smell of the books - is a huge part of my experience. I wonder how our digital generation will remember the reading of their childhood? I want to embrace the new, and at the same time, I hate to think that children would miss the joy of handling books and books and books and books...

  3. Excellent post. I love to read, but do find myself on the computer more, need to change that. We have gotten back to reading with my girls (I have 3), but am not super consistent. We do have books everywhere and love to visit book stores also:)

  4. This is a great post. I did great with my kids when they were younger, but now that they're teens and young adults, they are much more into electronics and social media than reading. They do still read an occasional book like Ender's Game or a Stephen King book, but not nearly as much. But when they were younger, I taught them both to read before school started. I wasn't about to take a chance on the teacher not having the time or the patience to help them. And we listened to a ton of books on tape in the car. I refused to have a video player in my car for just that reason - it was the only time I could get them bored enough to read something. My son learned all about the Civil War from listening to Gone With the Wind and he was the only one in his class who could speak knowledgeably about the differences between Yankees and Confederates and understand how difficult things were during Reconstruction when half the country was starving. He also learned a lot from The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. Plus I quote Zig Ziglar to him when he acts up and it drives him crazy, but it also gets him back on track because we listened to Zig all the time. Stopping by from Tip Me Tuesday.


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