Reading is a relatively new skill set for humans. But mothers have always been the language teachers. Is that why we talk so much? And now reading...
Recently, we were editing the contents of our home and spent the better part of an afternoon going through the books my children had out grown and wished to give away. All three of us gravitated to the books we knew we'd keep forever. Two stood out: a preschool book about a firefighter that included a little firefighter that you could pry out of the book and play with. That was a favourite because every few sentences that firefighter was pried out of his nook and sent flying across the room, screaming the whole way. Peels of laughter. The second was a sweet rewrite of the song Hush Little Baby, a mother bunny sang about nature and love to her baby bunny. Precious, but I didn't sing it that way. Instead, I would sing the line, then make crazy voices/sound effects/noises in stark contrast to the gentle nature of the book. Sang that book to them every night for years. They read to me, now. Share passages, summarize complex novels, predict plot, even point out errors. That afternoon, going through the old books, the three of us found ourselves pressed together, laughing, singing, remembering.
My daughter put her head on my shoulder and said, "Reading is fun."
One day when I was four or five, a package came to my house and inside was my first Dr. Seuss book. My mother had enrolled me in a book club, which was the only way to get his books at that time. One came every month or so, and she patiently read Put Me in the Zoo, Go Dog Go, and One Fish Two Fish until we could recite them by heart. If she was ever sorry to see a package in the mail, she never let on. Soon after, I got my first library card. I particularly remember reading the books of Elizabeth George Speare. Later, as a preschool teacher, I collected picture books and wrote lesson plans celebrating them. What a joy it is to introduce children to stories! My own children progressed through Dr. Seuss to newer classics and into more challenging books. My (grown) son credits me with introducing them to the Lord of the Rings by reading aloud from the Hobbit, but I've read the books so many times that I frankly don't remember. My kids are suggesting titles for me now, and broadening my horizons.