Imprinted on my mind and heart is a picture of my grandson Connor and his mommy, lying side by side on the quilted floor of his colorful play area this morning while she reads story after story and he waves his tiny arms and legs in pure delight. He studies each picture with a solemn concentration uncommon to six month old babies and already recognizes favorite phrases from the most oft-repeated books.
He seems to be a natural born book lover, and while I’d like to take some of the genetic credit, it really doesn’t matter where the love of story comes from. What matters is that his parents are bright enough to recognize it and take full advantage of it.
Because, of course, reading together is about much more than just one particular story. It’s about sharing imagination and experience, about finding pathways to new information and ideas, about creating a bond with someone you love.
Fresh from watching Connor’s morning story time, I find Beth Kephart’s reflections on Alice Ozma’s book about this very experience. The Reading Promise; My Father and the Books We Shared is, according to Ozma, “about the act of reading and the time spent doing it. The books are important but the conversations they started and the bonds they created are what really matter.”
And so in a world where children are over scheduled, under loved, bombarded with noise and flash, Ozma extolls the power of sharing what Beth Kephart calls, “time spent kindly together.”
It’s a gift I wish every child could have, in every place and every nation. I believe the world would be a kinder and more thoughtful place if they did.