Sharing Books with Children
One of my first memories of childhood is that of my mother reading Dr. Seuss books to me in a big brown recliner in our living room. That memory brings with it sounds and smells and a general feeling of safety and comfort that never fades, even after all these years. Naturally, one of the first memories I have of my own first born child is sitting in a big chair and reading Little Golden Books to him.
Sharing books and reading with my children is as natural as giving them baths and making their breakfast. It’s just something I do everyday, and it’s one of the most pleasurable moments of my day. I love to hold my two year old in my lap while we snuggle up and look through his ever growing library of books. His favorite books change weekly as his interests broaden. Books open up the world to him and his imagination is bubbling over with new ideas every day.
More than just telling a story, books help children better understand their own ideas and feelings and often calm an upset toddler when nothing else will work. They see and hear about other kids like them and others from around the world who are different. We’ve all seen little kids acting out the stories they hear. As a child I spent many afternoons pretending to be the characters from my favorite books. Just recently my son was playing ‘Dr.Dan. The Bandage Man’, a current favorite Little Golden Book.
Although reading with children is so very rewarding for both adult and child, little kids need time to look at books alone. This allows them the opportunity to look at the pictures and develop the habit of ‘reading’ even though they can’t yet read. In my Family Child Care, I have different ‘libraries’ available in different rooms in my home. The kids have labeled these areas ‘libraries’ themselves, and will often rotate the books from room to room and act out ‘going to the library’ daily. Imagine my surprise when I first witnessed a three year old taking the younger kids ‘to the library.’
Because books are a very user-friendly activity and require no prep or cleanup other than returning them to the ‘library’, parents can and should use any opportunity to share books with their young children. Long car or plane trips, waiting rooms, in shopping carts, you name it, you can hand a child a book and make just about any transition or otherwise boring activity exciting. Books and reading can be both a group or individual activity, and many children who are normally shy in a group setting will sit in the reading circle and share story-time while making new friends.
By sharing books with your young child, you are planting a precious memory that will last a lifetime for both parent and child. They in turn will continue the tradition with their own children and remember those special times. A world of experiences and ideas are waiting for you to introduce to them.