Crystal Clear: Mom, son take reading staycation
July 7, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- I knew we were watching too much television when my son grabbed the remote control, handed it to me and shouted, “Woohoo! TV!”
Every afternoon, we would get home and I would immediately turn on the tube, leaving him to watch his shows as I cleaned up or cooked dinner. And while I would turn it off during dinner, afterward, Nick Jr. would be on again, and I’d be having “mommy” time, reading a magazine or doing something equally unimportant.
So as the on-post and local libraries began their summer reading campaigns, I decided that we would take this time to ramp up our reading and cut down on our TV time.
That first weekend, we headed to the library with an empty bag and I walked him down the aisles of the children’s section, allowing him to pick out the books that looked interesting to him and adding a few of my own. We left the library with a full bag, about 10 or so books; enough to last us the week. Well, that’s what I thought, anyway.
Since then, he has been hooked. Just the other night, as I tried to finish eating dinner, he grabbed my hand. “Come on, Ma,” he said, pulling me toward his stack of books. In the mornings, I ask him if he wants to go to “school” and he sometimes says no, but offers his own alternative. “I want to go to the library.”
While my initial goal was to just get us to turn off the television for a while, our weekly trips have taught me that reading to " and with " our children is a crucial part of their development.
According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, 20 minutes of reading aloud to a child strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity and establishes a strong reading foundation.
At first, finding those 20 minutes was tough. But soon, I developed a system that allowed me to wind down and still find time to read to him. Don’t get me wrong; there are times when I’m just not in the mood to read a book. But it’s hard to say no when he climbs into the rocker wearing his monkey pajamas and holds out a book.
The Post Library also makes reading time easy with its “A Midsummer Knight’s Read” program, which runs through July 23. The summer reading calendar includes story time activities for family members of all ages. Specific activities are available by age group, which is broken into newborn to 3-year-olds; pre-schoolers and 6 to 12-year-olds.
My own journey to make my son a reader has not been without its missteps; I have had to walk into the library shame-faced to explain that my son has ripped a page from a book. And since I let him pick out his own books, we have come home with books about adoption, coping with the death of a pet and the intricate stages of the development of the lady bug.
Even when I feel too tired to read, my own childhood reading memories spur me to continue.
I remember spending each summer devouring books as my cousins urged me to come outside and play. Those books took me to magical forests, historic moments and overseas trips. And now, it’s my son’s turn to travel.