The conversation ranged far and wide.
Do you remember reading Miss Rumphius?
Yes, and what about The Ox-Cart Man?
No, the best one was Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.
Our family was on the way to Florida for a week on the beach. As a children's book author, reading great children's literature to our four kids has always been a priority. When traveling, we listened to books on tape, everything from Tarzan to the Biography of Helen Keller (an interesting juxtaposition of two wild children).
Now that they were teenagers, they wanted to "talk books." Which one did they like, and for what reasons?
It thrilled my heart!
Read Aloud with Kids
Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook was a gem, inspiring me to take the time to read to the kids, even when they were older elementary or even high school. Today, Sarah Mackensie's ReadAloudRevival.com blog and podcast do the same thing, helping parents to understand the importance of putting words--literature--into kid's hearts at an early age. (Start by listening to Sarah's interview with the remarkable Australian writer, Mem Fox: RAR #162 Why and How Reading Aloud Will Change Your Children's Lives Forever.)
That's before you even get to the work of Charlotte Mason on encouraging children's literature.
Can you tell that I'm sold on the importance, nay, the necessity of reading aloud to kids?
When I wrote my picture book, ROWDY: THE PIRATE WHO COULD NOT SLEEP, I asked several fathers to tape themselves reading to kids. Watch these!
One Father, Three Daughters!
Sweet Daughter, Loving Father
He's Charmed by His Daughter
Reading together means that kids pay attention to the story better. Why? Because of YOU! You bring a personal element to the story. Authors talk about writing for the "child in the lap." We mean that we build into the story a moment when the kid turns around to YOU and say, "I love you."
That special moment is built into many stories, the opportunity to deepen the parent-child relationship.
Beyond that, you know what types of stories are best for your child. They become used to your voice interpreting the story (the world!) for them. You can choose books that build character, develop a tender heart, deepen knowledge of the world, and take the whole family to fascinating new worlds.
That day in the car when my kids started talking about their favorite books was an affirmation. All those hours reading to them, it mattered. They could Talk Books in deep and meaningful ways.
Do you want to educate your kids for life? Read to them!