Thursday, April 22, 2010

Read outloud

Inspiration comes in like wind over the hills. It blows right over you making you think. Reading is a significant part of my day. I find time to catch a bit of book love every day. I understand that this is a luxury to some but it's a priority to me. Even if I only have time for 10 minutes that's what I would rather than none at all. Typically I aim for an hour of reading a day. When I read the NYTimes article by Michael Winerip Father-Daughter Bond Page by Page  it just made me stop and think about the importance of literature in my life. I realized that yes, reading was tremendously important to me and has been for most of my life. Yet is it for my children? One of my numerous goals is to provide the love of reading to my children. I want them to be devourers of books, conquerors of words, lovers of prose. So far Leah has been taking this path of book love finding a few spare minutes perfect for catching a page or two of reading. I loved the story she told me about her interaction with the new kid in class. He approached her and said "So you're the girl who likes to read" based on the descriptions given to him by her peers. I nearly melted with pride. I remember those days not too far ago when Leah equated reading a book to torture. What amazing things can happen over time! Now that Olivia has become a stronger reader she is making great progress at wanting to read. She prefers reading for a few minutes at a time whereas Leah would find hours more to her taste. I realize that personality and interests will often influence the duration of reading but every bit is important. So long as Olivia picks up a book she will be following her own book love.

After reading that article I pondered it for days. I considered my own reading style, my choices and my desire to carve out daily time to read. Those things in addition to many fond memories of stories from childhood made it clear to me what I needed to do. I needed to bring back the bedtime story-time. It was something that fell to the side as the girls aged. For several years I would read a story to them before bed, eventually that led to my making up stories and then it all ended. I can't say when or what made it fade away but it did and that was a mistake. I should have kept on reading to them regardless of their ages. This article has reminded me how absolutely important reading to your children is to their language skills. And imagination! I can't neglect that important aspect of childhood. Instead of worrying about the coulda-shouldas I decided to move on to the can-dos.

Last week I began our nightly reading. I selected one of my favorite books from childhood, The Sheep of the Lah Bagh by  David Mark & Lionel Kalish, 1967. This book is out of print and that's a shame. It's such a wonderful book and I adore Lionel Kalish's illustrations. I read this book to them a few times before and both fondly recalled I had done so. They were so very pleased to see it again. And so it began, me sharing my favorite picture books, reading to them nearly every night. So far we have read my two more of my old favorites: Ma Lien and the Magic Brush by Hisako Kimishima, Loveable Lyle by Bernard Waber. Ma Lien has such wonderful illustrations that I just love reading that book. There have always been so many things to see in them that I adore these books so much. Olivia is very fond of the Lyle book that I need to find some at the library to read soon. The next book we've been reading from is one of my new favorites. I found it at a used bookstore and instantly fell in love with it. I have always been fond of folktales and especially enjoy Irish tales. Maybe it's that Irish humor I find so appealing. Tales from Old Ireland by Malachy Doyle is a collection of seven stories retold from those stories told to him by his mother. The illustrations are so delightful that I have become a fan of Niamh Sharkey's work. These illustrations were very influential in my purchase of this book. Her pictures are so simply beautiful that they are lovely to look at but not distracting, soothing and enjoyable. I love them. Every time I open this book i can't even fathom why someone gave up this book. What were they thinking?    

As it turned out that one week of reading really made an impact on the girls. By the third night Olivia was immediately concerned about having the time to read before bed. She listed all the things they still needed to complete and thought that I'd say no to the story. Don't worry we managed to squeeze in the story. Actually being in bed a few minutes past bedtime was not a concern. I am never one to obsess about a firm bedtime and when they'd rather to hear a story there's always time for 10 minutes of reading. To continue this ritual I am seeking mainly picture books more involved picture books. There are so many I have discovered that a visit to the library is a must. I'm looking for picture books that have more text than pictures but the illustrations must be significant. Call me picky but a good book that influences children has to be both. It was for me and I'm pretty sure it was for you. Although picture books are my focus I do not want to neglect novels. I have the Winnie the Pooh books at the ready and will be cracking them open this weekend. As the girls grow we'll move on to more novels and just like the Father and daughter in that article we'll get to enjoy the wonders of all forms of literature. The best part about this adventure is there will be a new addition to the nightly listeners and so many more good books to come.

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