Scientists referenced in the news article “Infants Learn Earlier than Thought” (The Seattle Times, February 04, 2009) suggest that parents begin reading to their children in utero and continue to read to them ever after. Sounds like a good idea to me—one I certainly tried to follow with my own daughter.
I read to Sara until she was old enough to read to me and then we’d take turns reading to one another. One day when Sara was home from school sick, we spent time finishing up Wilson Rawls’ Where the Red Fern Grows. I was reading as we got to the ending when Old Dan and Little Ann defend Billy against the mountain lion (this is the place I need to tell you that I’m an animal lover supreme and a big-dog owner). I think I started crying when Old Dan got hurt and by the time he was home and dying I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t see the words on the page to read and I couldn’t have gotten the words out of my mouth between the sobs anyhow. Sara kept saying, “It’s okay, Mom, I’ll read.” I kept saying (you know, being the strong mom), “No, I’ll read.” And I couldn’t, and by then she was crying, too. We decided on a 15-minute break when we cried together and then washed our faces with cold wash cloths. We came back and finished the novel.
It wasn’t long after Where the Red Fern Grows that Sara’s class in school began reading chapter books together and before long she and I no longer read them to one another. We did engage in the “higher level conversations” about books that Franki Sibberson mentions in her February 9 post to her blog, A Year of Reading and there were books aplenty around the house, but I missed our read alouds. Now as adults we pass books back and forth to one another, enjoying many of the same writers, and I share reading conversations with my granddaughter—what reading fun!
But there are kids all over who aren’t ever read aloud to by their parents and who aren’t sharing tears or fun over books. What about them?
So, would I advocate a national campaign to encourage parents to read aloud to their kids, like Jen Robinson has suggested on her blog ? Yes, I think so. Would you?