Once Upon a Time ...

Billy's eyes filled with tears, as he plop down.

He wiped back the tears, but still wore a frown.

His face felt hot, he was mad as could be.

He could not believe Mom took his T.V.

She said, "Billy, you will not watch T.V. during the day."

"Now, go read a book, or go out and play."

(from my manuscript Billy Board and the Reading Glasses)

When my son was born, I was a scared young person, who hadn't the slightest idea what to do with a newborn. In fact, if it hadn't been for a copy of Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, his first night at home would have been a disaster, since the rhythm of the words in each verse helped him fall asleep- that and a rocking chair.

I read him his first complete story, two days after he was born, and later introduced him to the likes of Peter Pan, Wendy, and Winnie the Pooh. We read about countless characters, in a variety of books until he wanted to read himself to sleep. We stayed on a reading routine, and read every night, as well as many times during the day, since reading became one of our favorite pastimes.

Reading had always been a family pastime, but for my mother it is a passion she insisted on sharing with her children and grandchildren, therefore we had plenty of reading material. I have always loved to hear the beginning of books or a story that begins with "Once upon a time..." although not many have begun with those words in a long time- they just capture the imagination and excitement of what will happen next.

If you haven't begun to read to your child there are many reasons why you should began, I'm glad I did.

One of our favorite books was Goodnight Moon, crafted by the great Margaret Wise Brown, whose elegant prose puts children and adults in the mist of the story; tranquilizing readers into sleepy heads at bedtime.

I read Goodnight Moon to my son every night during the colicky period of his infancy. The years followed with Dr. Seuss, P.D. Eastman, E.B. White, and Old Yeller’s, Fred Gibson.

Even after he could read on his own, I still read to him, and he began to rely on them to cope with many difficult and different situations. The characters and events in a good book are great examples of what to do, and how to react when you find yourself in the same predicaments- to put it another way they give them a head start by teaching them about life. In addition, books show children they are not alone, by showing them that we all experience similar feelings and situations, even if we may react differently when dealing with the same circumstance. I wanted my son to understand the comfort of a pet, guitar, and good book on a cold and rainy night- especially when he wasn't near a partner, friend, or me later in life. I love everything about books even the way they smell and feel because of my mothers influence, and often lose my place in the book because I fell asleep holding one in my hand-

When my son and I looked over his collection of books today, we were transported back through time, remembering the books he loved, and what age he was when we read them. Recently, while writing a book review for P.D.Eastman’s Are you my mother? he reminded me of the part of the text when the baby bird asks a cow if he is his mother, and the cow replies, “No, I am not your mother, I am a cow!” He laughed at this passage when he was four, and he laughs again when he's reminded of it.

The Are You My Mother book review inspired one of my readers to leave a comment, referring to a memory of when her mother read Are you my Mother? to her, and her younger sibling. We remember our favorite childhood books, as if they're old childhood friends. In fact, they are our old childhood friends. Books inspire, teach, and capture our imaginations, during every phase of our life. That is why it is so important we start reading to our children at a young age.

When I started reading my son a book one night, not long after he was born, his father said to me, “What on earth are you doing? He is an infant; he doesn't understand the words.” I beg to differ with that statement. Children understand the rhythm of language, and by reading aloud, you strengthen their vocabulary, and develop their ability to learn proper sentence structure. When they're listening to you read a story, they're listening to the sound of the words, and the inflections in your voice. They learn to predict what is going to happen next, and develop a desire to learn to read on their own. This readiness, not only pays off down the road, when they're learning to read, it also ensures a lifetime love for language and books.

At times, when my son would pick out the same books, I secretly wished he would suggest a different title. However, kids love to read the same titles over and over again and follow it to the end. When they know the book by heart, they learn about the characters and words. This helps encourage pretend reading, which helps them really want to learn, and maybe even wish to read to you.

I remember reading time changing quickly in our home, when my little boy was in the first grade, because he started to insist on reading books to me. And anytime we went somewhere with a waiting room, for example the dentist office, he would pretend to read while I was reading a magazine. I never had the heart to tell him, that six year olds do not read Time magazine. Especially since, he would give the other patients a serious smile across the waiting area as if he were actually reading the magazine upside down.

When you read in front of your children, they will imitate your actions, therefore when you read, they will read. This is true for teenagers as well as older children, since readers produce readers. Therefore, reading to your children and encouraging them to read is one of the best ways to contribute to their future, and the future of your grandchildren. I am pleased that my son will associate books with happy memories, and in the back of his mind, when he reads a story to his children, he will smile when he begins to read any sentence that begins with, “Once upon a time...



I absolutely LOVE the factg that you're endorsing reading to children. Everytime I think about all the parents in today's society who would rather put on the TV to distract their kids then pick up a book, it makes me sick.

Awesome article. I really think you've made some great points here.


Drew said...

Wow. I havent children yet, but soon i think i will. And i think it is really very nice idea to read books to child from first days.

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