In the spirit of this weekend’s Mother’s Day festivities, I thought it would be fun to feature, as a guest author, the woman who first introduced me to the magical world of books. Introducing … (drumroll please) … my mom!
Growing up, the Henry House was bursting with books! An avid reader herself, Mom taught us kids how to browse the bookstore bins, lounge lazily with the perfect paperback and use our imaginations to enter new literary landscapes. But her favorite and, as it turns out, most important memory of all? Our nightly bedtime stories together …
When I look back on the days when my children were young, I remember a very, very busy family! Brigitte, Scotty, John and Jane were born over a span of 8 years. There were playgroups and pre-schools, music lessons and art classes, sports and homework, not to mention the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring! I loved every minute of it, despite the fact that most days I felt like I was trying to hang on to a runaway train! They were the most exhausting and happiest of days.
The absolute best part of every day, for me, was bedtime. Well, to be honest, it was story time, the pre-cursor to every night’s “lights out,” that was my favorite part. Dinner was served and cleanup completed. Homework was done and bath time was over. Everyone was powdered and in their “jammies,” and these busy little bees were ready to switch gears and settle down for some quiet time and a favorite story.
Sometimes we would all climb into one big bed and read a group favorite like the Tale of Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit. The clever Brer Rabbit gets away again, but Brer Fox promises that next time he’ll get him, for sure!
Other times, if we got an early start, I’d sit with each child individually and read his or her personal favorite. Brigitte chose Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie for her first chapter book. Scotty’s favorite storybook friend was the kind, gentle and fair-minded Clifford the Big Red Dog. John Patrick loved the adventures and mischief of Curious George, and Jane dreamed of following Madeline down the streets of Paris!
It’s especially interesting, at this point, to note that as adults, I can see the influences that my children’s favorite storybook characters had on their development! Brigitte has emulated Laura Ingalls Wilder as a talented writer. Scotty has studied philosophy and law, treating people fairly and thoughtfully, just like Clifford. John Patrick remains inquisitive, adventurous and daring, just like George, and Jane, a Baking & Pastry student at the Culinary Institute of America, is moving ever-closer to her dream of studying in Madeline’s Paris!
While social, sport, and academic activities are certainly important in training our children in the ways they should go, reading is perhaps most important in helping them find themselves; who they are and who they want to become. Reading provides an opportunity for quiet reflection and dreaming. Their storybook characters can teach lessons and provide inspiration.
In these days where advanced technologies and social media are such an integral part of our lives, it has never been more important for parents to manage how our children spend their time; what they read, watch, and listen to.
My recommendation? Spend time every evening with your child and a good book, and see where their dreams take them!