I have a confession to make: I still read bedtime stories to my children. But, please, don’t tell them that I told you. They may stop pretending that they enjoy it as much as I do.
As a matter of fact, finding enjoyment in our story time together is only one of the immeasurable and innumerable benefits from this brief moment of bonding (oops, I mean reading). Since the days of my own childhood, I have embraced reading with an insatiable appetite, always hungering for the next collection of words to caress my eyes and fill my inward desire for more, more, more.
We’re not talking just books here, people. We read everything! Recipes and ingredients, magazine articles and catalogs, receipts and sale papers, dictionaries and encyclopedias, blogs and newsprint, maps and directions, history lessons and math problems, poetry, memoirs, short stories, funny jokes, biographies, bibliographies, the handwriting on the wall, our own writing, even the fine print (although only sometimes, I mean, c’mon, everyone has their limit).
About the only thing we don’t read is each other’s mind. But if you were around us, you would swear that we did that too.
We turn off iPhones, iPods and iPads and we read. We turn off laptops, desktops and tablets and we read. We turn off TVs and electronic games. We stop text messaging, instant messaging, emailing and blogging and for 15-30 minutes or however long we feel, we simply read.
Sometimes, their eyes are wide open, focused on every word. Other times they’re crawling under the covers with false promises of “Mommy, I’m not going to fall asleep” as I watch their eyes drooping. Of course, there are times when they’re reading to me and I’m the one finding it hard to stay awake. And then there are those moments in the middle of the day when one of us has read something exciting and interesting and we call out to the others to convene so that we can all hear.
I like to call these reading sessions my little subtle attacks in this fast-paced, move-out-of-my-way, get it done or else, bullying type of a world they have been thrust into. Sharing this love for reading has opened doors for us to share other passions, interests, ideas, and even, mmm hmm, challenging parent-child discussions.
When we read, we also talk and laugh and, basically, relax. I’m able to hear their hopes, dreams, goals, fears, trials and even tests they may be facing. No, it’s not always smooth sailing in our home when it comes to communication. This just gives me a somewhat delicate approach to areas of my children’s lives that might otherwise be lost or kept inside of them as we move around in this hectic pace we call life.
There is one more thing that I have seen my gatherings with my dear children accomplish. As I watch each child take on their individual personalities, I notice that they have all become lovers of books and lovers of reading. I hear them reading to each other. I see them reading to themselves. They tell me about what they’ve read.
So yes, I still read bedtime stories to my children. There, I’ve said it.
Robin Fuller is a Chicago mom of three girls, Robin, Toni, Taylor. As a homeschooling mom, she says she takes advantage of all the opportunities Chicago has to offer families.