This is a bit of a funny story from my son’s younger days. I knew he had a love of books and we worked hard to foster that in him, but it really hit home during his fifth birthday party. We held it at one of those loud indoor amusement places where you fork over tokens to play games with controls that are covered in sugar and cheese droppings from the previous gaggle of kids (locusts) that descended upon them.
We had invited a bunch of his friends and of course parents and his grandparents. We got to the part where you open presents – Everyone standing around the birthday boy as he sits at his table and rips off wrapping paper to reveal the latest cool car or kung-fu grip action figure.
One of the last gifts he got to was from his grandparents, who I had coerced into buying books – a series of picture books from the great duo of Kate & Jim McMullan (I STINK, I’M DIRTY, etc…) They didn’t want to buy the books. They wanted to buy something “cool”, but I strong armed them into buying them nonetheless.
When my son tore open the wrapping, his eyes lit up. I mean he was literally beaming. With a squeal and a long swipe of his arm, he flung every other gift off the table as he spread out his new-found treasure to bask in all its glory. Hot Wheels cars and G.I. Joe all suffered a terrible fate as they clattered across the sticky cheese encrusted floor. They were cast off as easily as last night’s underpants, we spent an hour trying to get him into.
That’s when I knew I had a reader on my hands. But here’s the thing. He wasn’t the only one staring at those books like they were pieces of a map to the lost City of Goldfish. His friends – yes boys and girls alike – were drooling over those glossy pictures of garbage trucks and backhoes. These kids were all readers.
The tough part is not losing that as they grow older. Between TV and the video games and the baseball outings and the dance lessons…sometimes that love of reading can get lost. That may not seem like a big thing, but reading opens up so many worlds for kids. It gives them a place to explore feelings and their own personality without having anyone judging them (books never furrow their brows at us). I’ve been putting my own personal thoughts about raising a reader in this blog. Hopefully some of that connects for you and your own little reader.
The best part of the whole birthday party though was the look on Grandpa’s face as he proudly announced: “I knew he’d love those books.”
All the best,