Why reading to your children matters

“In the great green room

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of—”

My youngest child just married a few months ago, but the lines from Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon are as familiar to me now as they were decades earlier.

They should be. I started reading the book to my oldest when he was four, then his sister born three years later, then his twin sisters another three years later, and two years later, to the last of my five children.

When my first grandchild was still no bigger than an aspirin, I bought a copy of Goodnight Moon, and anticipated that sweet moment when we’d snuggle and read it together.

I’d like to share that my reading to my children when they were young developed a hunger in them reach for books to feed themselves. But, they all came to the table late, as it were, only now as adults with tastes of their own.

My older son reads Chuck Palahniuk when he’s not reading to his daughters. His brother reads golf books along with an occasional Holes and The Hunger Games. My oldest daughter samples writers ranging from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones to Emily Giffin. One of her sisters prefers nonfiction along with bites of women’s fiction. Her other sister, born with Down’s Syndrome, reads Nancy Drew, Disney books, and whatever she can find about her latest star crush.

I mention my daughter’s syndrome to make a point. Well, perhaps, several points. Doctors told me she may not ever be able to read or write (she does both), and her love for books is testimony to the power of stories to transcend and transform…even for those who some consider “disabled.”

This past Christmas, I found a graphic print with one my middle daughter’s  (her twin) favorite expressions when she tells me goodbye, “I love you to the moon and back.”

It’s so sweet to come full circle.

“Goodnight stars

Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere.”

From Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown








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