By Barbara Rainey
First Posted on EverThineHome.com
“Now I will go and find my mother!” he said. “Are you my mother?” he said to the kitten. “Are you my mother?” he said to the hen?”
Ah, the familiarity and comfort of bedtime stories.
While I have given many of our shelves full of children’s books to our kids to read to their own, I kept some of my favorites to populate my travel bag for reading to my grands when we go visit. I love reading some of my favorites like Goodnight Moon or Blueberries for Sal to my grandchildren. (See the lists below to find out what’s currently in my Mimi bag!)
Reading a good book with a child nuzzled underneath your neck is magical. Little ones help turn pages while older ones correct you if the adult reading misses even one word. Cuddling such innocence creates a bond as the wonder of imagination and discovery is sparked by words, hand-drawn illustrations, and creative story lines.
As Gladys Hunt puts it in one of my favorite books about reading to children, Honey for a Child’s Heart, “Children don’t stumble onto good books by themselves; they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic.”
The importance of a good book
Being intentional is a parent’s job. We intentionally plan healthy meals, choose the best school, church, and play activities for our children’s growth. Selecting and reading the best books is equally important.
Good books spark imagination and creativity. They teach, guide, and model virtues and excellence in wise living. Proverbs describes good words this way: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). What a delightful, happy parenting task reading is.
One of my favorite parenting memories is the year we read all of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most afternoons I put my two littlest ones down for naps and the four big kids and I piled on the couch. Rebecca nestled on my lap; the others leaned in with heads on shoulders, legs folded snuggly into couch cushions.
Every time we ended a chapter, they begged for just one more. I often agreed because I loved reading these remarkable stories as much as my kids enjoyed hearing them. We laughed and cried together. And we bonded in those hours.
The overwhelming majority of that mommy season of my life was filled with the hard work of meals, laundry, discipline, training, and endless messes to clean up. But our afternoons of reading were pure pleasure. They were an escape for all of us into another time and another world. Our souls were fed together.
Never too old
Reading magic isn’t over once your child is too big to climb up on your knees. When my youngest two were teens I sat with them against their twin bed headboards and read The Hiding Place to them, a chapter every night.
This book prompted discussions about all kinds of big ideas because of the characters and messages that were presented in the story. I didn’t have to ask, “So what do you think about trusting God when it feels unfair and hard?” They got to watch and feel and hear and see a real person live out her faith when it felt impossible.