Updated: Jul 11
Loving, feeding, and reading aren't all you need to know about raising a child or getting through this hot summer break, but it's a good start. Loving is the easy part. As parents, we learn to love them, even at their worst—especially then.
Feeding nutritious diets is vital to our children's growth and development from conception through the day they are off and on their own. Do your best to build a solid foundation. They will need good habits to survive the inevitable temptations of fast food, soda, and high-sugar delicacies.
Now, on to my favorite topic, reading. Just as your decisions about nutrition affect your child from conception, so do your choices about reading. If you are pregnant, read to them. Any topic will do; they want to hear your voice and the story's rhythm. If you have toddlers, cuddle up with them and read every day. Naptime and bedtime are good, but when you are busy and they bring you a book—that's a perfect time. Take a break and enjoy a few precious moments. But don't stop there.
Read anything, anytime. I had a boyfriend who read recipes to my children at bedtime. The ingredients were the characters, and the instructions were the plot. It was hilarious! They still talk about it decades later.
The dramatics he read with made the recipe story extra funny. Inflections, volume changes, intensity, passion, rhythm, and rhyme all add to the reading experience.
Remember Richard Scarry's Big Book of Words? I spent hours with my firstborn when she could barely sit up, looking at this book, pointing to pictures, and saying the word. This led to her pointing and waiting for me to say the word, and later to me saying the word and her finding the picture. Perhaps she would have loved books anyway, but our hours and hours with many types of books have positively affected her life. Ehrinn is in her forties now, and I can remember seeing her without a book only a handful of times in all those years. Her son Jack has followed suit.
Reading to your child and with your child in the early years has lasting effects throughout their lives. Here are 3 benefits from an article at: https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/reading-to-children#benefits:
Hearing a story read aloud involves some level of comprehension on your child's part. And comprehension is dependent on paying attention—listening skills.
The experts explain that listening is a skill children must acquire before they can read themselves. They suggest that books on tape are a great addition to reading one-on-one with your child. These also provide entertainment value, like silly voices, music, and other embellishments.
Cognitive and language development
Even the youngest children benefit from hearing their caregivers read to them. A 2013 study showed that babies who are read to and talked to score higher in language skills and cognitive development, like problem-solving.
Reading books to kids helps expand the number and variety of words they use. Often the books you read contain words you might not otherwise use in everyday communication.
Find additional information about the benefits of reading to children on WebMD.com : https://www.webmd.com/children/health-benefits-reading-children
On her website, "What do we do all day?" Erica has put together many excellent picture book lists. Even one of Black-and-White board books for infants. Check them out at: https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/tag/picture-books/
My favorite reading memory is when my youngest child, Jessie, was in middle school. We chose a book, not to read together but to have a contest to see who could finish first. We only had one copy, so I usually read at night when she slept. She knew that and thought hiding the book under her pillow or covers would be funny and make it difficult for me to win. So, our reading contest of "Island of the Blue Dolphins" turned into fun, laughter, and memories that have lasted over fifty years. I'm trying to remember who won. I guess we both did.
So, love, feed, and read to them as you build bonds and make lasting memories. It's all part of your story.
Never stop believing!
P.S. Did I mention I'm dyslexic and dislike reading because it's hard for me? If your kids say, "I don't like to read," read to them (and perhaps have them tested for reading disabilities). Help them find a passion for books in whatever way you can; who knows, they may become an author someday.