Sunday, October 30, 2011

A True Story about My Sons

Post # 194
   My two grandsons are here spending the night with me.  While one was playing on the computer ...Legoland.... the eleven year old got in my big chair with me and let me read him four chapters of a book before bedtime (Ereth's Birthday by Avi---4th in the Tales from Dimwood Forest series, one of my favorite series for 8 to 12 yr olds, or grandmas like me).  Yes, he can read just fine by himself.  Yes, reading to children no matter what their age is important.  Yes, it is a tough job but someone has to do it :) and I am always ready!
     I worked at a public library for 20 years and met many families that loved to read as much as I do.  One of my patron families had a library in their home.  I never saw it, but they described it to me and I thought oh my blessed this family is! Not because they lived in a very nice house near the college where the father was a professor....although all of those houses in that area are just beautiful. Not because they have a library in their home, although yes, that was a blessing. They were a blessed family because the family would gather in that library, in front of a fireplace, surrounded by bookshelves full of books, a family together and the dad would read out loud to them every night. Even when their daughters were in high school.  Teenagers! Really. Teenagers who even told me how they loved to hear their dad read to them.  I really, really wish I had been born in a family like that.  I know another family, without a huge 2 story house with a fireplace and library, but every summer as a family they read To Kill a Mockingbird aloud.  I don't know what their family story is that they read the same book.  There must be a story there but maybe it is just because it is such an excellent book, because of the lessons it teaches, because of the story, or language.  I don't know, but what a blessing that they read out loud together.  I really, really wish I had been born in a family like that.  At the library I was the story time lady for 18 of those years.  Back before stay at home dads were even remotely common there was a dad with two young sons who faithfully came to story time each week.  Afterwords he would take his sons over to a corner, or to the old fashioned bathtub full of pillows we had in the library and he would read to his kids, then they would leave with a backpack full of books to check out.  He was almost always the only dad there.  I thought he was a wonderful, brave, caring father and I loved to see him teaching his sons to love books.  I really, really wish I had been born in a family like that.   In my religion, families that truly practice our teachings gather as a family and read scriptures together every night. Really. Little kids. Teenagers.  Big, busy familes. Little families. It is one of the reasons I love my religion. I really, really, really wish I had been born in a family like that, where a loving father gathered his family together and read them scriptures of any kind.  I admire strong father figures that want to read to their children. 
       As a single mom, financially challenged, and very tired I couldn't do everything I wanted for my kids but we did read books.  I read, and read, and read to my children.  They all became readers.  We read far more than we ever watched TV, or anything else.  When they were teenagers they seldom let me read out loud to them, but I tried.  Shoot, they are in their 20's and 30's and I sometimes still ask "can I read this to you?"  (they usually say, Uh, no, I will read it myself).  After they became old enough to read chapter books on their own they were eager to read by themselves and while I still wanted to read to them I loved it that they wanted to read more than anything else.  We had a lot of good discussions about those books. At dinner as often as not we each had a book with us.  In the evening we all were in the living room together immersed in books. It was just what we did.  To this day my 30 year old daughter and I will read a book and then hand it over for the other to read.  I bet she and I have read 2 dozen of the same books this year.  
     I have a story about my two sons that  I told as many people as possible that came through the youth department where I worked.  I told it not so they would be impressed with my children but so that they could see what they could do for their children.   The summer my sons left 2nd and 3rd grades I enrolled them in a reading class.  One of my favorite elementary school teachers was teaching a reading comprehension class for elementary school kids at the community college that summer.  Her objective was to test them on the first day, test them on the last day, and over the 6  week period  raise their reading comprehension one grade level.  My ex-husband worked for the college, therefore our children could take those classes for free and I was eager to have them in the class.  My friend called me after the first class to talk about my sons.  I thought OH NO, what have those two done! First class and the teacher is calling me! Turns out it was good news.  She told me I could keep sending my sons if I wanted to (I did) but they both tested at post-high school reading comprehension level.  They just left 2nd and 3rd grades.  Now, I know my sons are intelligent but in my heart I know that they did so well on the comprehension tests because they had been read to all their life. The same was true for their older sisters.  I read to those kids constantly.  Not just a little bit but every day, every possible moment I had.  If I could do it anyone could do it.  I had four children within 6 years so I had a houseful of little people and it was a very busy time of my life.  I didn't grow up in the type of family where the dad read to us but I was somehow born knowing books, and reading, are important and I knew to do that for my kids.  I read my children library books, Little Golden Books that I bought at a discount store because that is what I could afford, scriptures, encyclopedia articles, and even when they were infants (a captive audience!) I read the newspaper out loud to them!  OK, fine, I still read the newspaper out loud to them on occassion!  As a mom I did not do everything right, but this is one time I hit the nail on the head.  I also read to my grandsons every chance I get.  My grandsons are now 9 and 11.  They are readers. When they were little they spent a lot of time with me and I had a corner in my apartment fixed up as a reading area.  We loved it! 

Umbrella? Hat? Yes, this reading corner was inside my apartment. Why do you ask?

my grandsons in the tub at the library---Travis must be saying "good grief, will Grandma EVER quit taking our picture??" (the answer is no)

Product DetailsThe baby shower present I gave my daughter-in-law was a box of board books for my granddaughter.  For my son's 1st father's day before Taylor was born I gave him a board book - Guess How Much I Love You  by Sam of my very favorites.
I started babysitting my granddaughter when she was 8 months old and we have read books every day.  Sometimes she will let me read one before she wants to hop down and do something else but most often we read at least 3 or 4, sometimes a whole stack!  When she is with me she will pick up a book before a toy almost every time I put her in the floor.  Even when she is busy playing with toys she will stop and pick up a book and bring to me.  I think she loves the cuddling in my lap as much as the story. 

     I chose the  titles I bought for my granddaughter  carefully because  :)  I knew would be reading them dozens of times, and because  I wanted to know she would enjoy them and would want them to be read to her.  Because I have three decades of experience reading to children at home and then at work I think I know some of the very best ones for toddlers.  In case you want to read a book or two to a young child here is a list of the board books I think you both will enjoy.  They are the titles I bought my granddaughter before she was born, the ones I have squirreled away this year to save for her first birthday next month and for Christmas, and the titles still on my wish list for birthdays and Christmases to come over the next few years for her while she is a toddler.  There are so many good books that do not come in board book format so I will be working on a list for later years.  Right now I want board books so she can touch them all she wants, love them and no one is constantly fussing at her for ripping pages.  With IPads and Kindle becoming more popular I wonder how soon it will be before printed books are a thing of the past.      my board book list:

LOL! I think  my dog, Max, likes books as well!  He is "reading" with my daughter.

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