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  • Writer's pictureColleen Nelson

Read! Read It All! Read Often!

The advantages of reading to your children seems endless. The one-on-one time. Teaching them to listen to your voice. The Snuggles. The improvement in their vocabulary. They learn to enjoy reading which proves them well as they get older. Sharing an adventure with them while snuggled safely in your home. As I implied the list goes on. I strongly encourage you to read everything to them. And when the time comes have them read to you.

Reading to my children was something I was nervous about when I became a mom. I am dyslexic and reading has always been a challenge for me. I read slow. I sometimes read the same line multiple times. It is something I have learned to manage in my adult life. But I had fears that my challenges would somehow mess up my children. And though it was a struggle I loved reading. I loved the stories and adventures of far-off places. I wanted to share that magic.

When my dear son came into this world, I was not going allow him to have any disadvantage because of my struggles. From the day we brough him home I read him a book at night. I found myself not only singing to him on our walks after dinner but also reading from a book when we would sit on the bench in the park to rest. I would even read a book to him during those late-night feedings.

As he got older and started learning his letters we would look for and count letters everywhere! When sitting in a doctor’s office we would keep score of how many of each letter were on a pamphlet. When we were driving, we would count the number of each letter we saw on license plates. By the time he was reading it became a family practice that as we came across words, we just read them aloud without even thinking about it.

When my dear daughter came along reading was already a staple in our home. My dear son even loved to read board books to her. We would read a couple of books to her before putting her to bed. And then I would lay in the hallway and read his chapter book to them both. It does not matter what you read or what level the material is. Read it ALL!

One of my favorite stories about our dear daughter came when she was about two years old. Trying to convince a toddler to do anything they do not want to do is hard. Convincing them to do it faster is harder. Taking over and doing the task yourself is worse yet. Winters here are cold and wearing a coat is a necessity in the winter months.

We had woken up late. I was trying to get my dear son, my dear daughter, and myself ready for school and work. We were making time and almost back on track when I told my dear daughter to put her coat on. She refused. I explained we were in a hurry, and it was cold out. She needed her coat. She crossed her arms and sat down on the steps glaring at me. So, I moved in to put her coat on her.

“Honey, it is cold out and you are going to freeze if you do not wear your coat. We must get to school and if you do not have your coat, they will not let you go out to play.” I said this as I wrapped the coat around her should and reached to put her hands through the sleeves.

“No mama! I be defiant!” She proclaimed as she pulled her arm away and sat back down on the stairs.

These are the moments as a parent where you are flooded with conflicted emotions. She just used that word correctly. That was in our story last night. She is clearly stating her limits. We are late and its cold and we need to leave!

I did get the kids to school. I got to work. To this day my dear daughter is defiant. This is one of those stories we all laugh about with the same mixed emotions I felt in that moment.

Over the years I have heard how smart my children are. This could be genetic. This could be from good teachers. This could be from any number of factors that happen from the moment a child is born. But I think through moments like that with my dear daughter and attribute their intelligence to the reading.

They learned to be pragmatic and silly from Amelia Bedelia and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. They learned to be silly for no other reason than being silly from Wayside Stories and Phantom Tollbooth. They learned awe and inspiration from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Where the Sidewalk Ends. They went on adventures with Percy Jackson. They learned about how dark classic stories can be from Brother’s Grimm.

Do not let your disability or insecurity deprive your children of the power of reading. Read! Read Often! Read it all!

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