The Fun of Reading to Children

Rachel Kent

My daughter started Kindergarten today! I can’t believe we are here. She was so excited to go in to class and is so excited to learn. She’s already reading pretty well and is getting to the place where reading is fun and not such hard work. I am glad she’s already a reader! I’m sure it will help her flourish with her learning in her new class. I have worked hard to encourage her love of books and reading. She’s always enjoyed our reading time!

I remember my parents reading to me when I was young. My dad would always cheat and read ahead when we were supposed to be reading a chapter each night. πŸ™‚ He was just so into the stories that he couldn’t wait! My mom and I would read the same books as I became a teenager. It was fun to go shopping for the next installment in a series and then fight over who was going to read it first.Β  We read Christy by Catherine Marshall aloud together when I was sixteen. It was awesome mom/daughter time, and I hope my daughter wants to read with me when she’s older.

We weren’t a family that made frequent trips to the library, though I know this is a great way to introduce children to books–and lots of them–for very little money. I did participate a couple of times in summer reading contests hosted through our school.

I also think my parents encouraged us to read by insisting that we drive on family trips. We’d be in the car for weeks sometimes, driving to the different National Parks, and we didn’t have any nifty electronic devices to distract us back then.Β  On one trip, when I was 13, I ran out of my own books so I started reading my brother’s high school summer reading for his AP class. That’s when I discovered Pride & Prejudice and LOVED it.

What about you? What inspired your love of reading? Did you parents read to you?

What is your earliest memory of books or reading?

Here is a favorite poem of mine! I’ve posted it before, but it’s worth another read.

The Reading Mother

By Strickland Gillilan

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.

This poem is in the public domain.

32 Responses

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  1. On my very first back-to-school night, the librarian asked the room of kindergarten parents, “What’s the most important thing you can do to encourage your children to read?”
    *
    “Read to them,” was the universal response.
    *
    “No,” she answered. “Your child needs to see YOU reading for pleasure. If they don’t see you read, they won’t want to read.”

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Interesting! And this makes sense. I usually read after my children are in bed, but I hope they know that I do enjoy our book time together, too.

  2. My mom read to me and my siblings all the time when we were little. That, and she would often be reading herself. I think both of these were big influencers on my own love of reading.

  3. I grew up in a household that didn’t read much. It was mostly story-telling by my grandmother, memories I cherish. But I used Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons for my girls. Great book and great memories. They were reading by age four. My husband offered to pay our girls for every book they read one summer, and their reading took flight. They love reading.

    • Oh Shelli, you made me smile. πŸ™‚ I taught my daughter to read using that book too. She wanted to read it again when we were done, and I told her she didn’t need to because she could read all the books her brothers were reading.
      I kept it. Guess who I hope to teach to read next? I’ll wait until he’s 3 1/2 yrs old, like the books says to do. Fun.

  4. Rachel, what a fun post. πŸ™‚ It’s amazing to think your daughter is old enough for kindergarten!
    My love of reading began early. I always saw my mom reading, and she’d be completely immersed in her story world. But, my parents read to us too. The Chronicles of Narnia stand out most in my mind.
    I’m old enough that I learned to read with the Dick and Jane primers. I had trouble with my eyes and went for vision therapy when I was in kindergarten. Maybe that’s why I love reading so much now. Because I can.
    My boys are addicted to the written word as well, and that makes my mama’s heart happy.

    • Carol Ashby says:

      I started school with Dick and Jane, too, and when I was in Costco this week, they had a Dick and Jane book in the kids section!

      • That is so funny. As a former teacher, those books stopped being used a long time ago. Though they do help with learning a lot of basics about reading. I guess they’re making a comeback! πŸ™‚

      • Carol Ashby says:

        The original watercolor illustrations of kids from the 1950s were so pretty! If my kids were small or had kids of their own yet, I would have bought one. Instead, I bought my nurse-in-training daughter “Anatomy 360: The Ultimate Visual Guide to the Human Body,” essentially a computer-modeled dissection of every system of the human body with proper scientific labels and descriptions of what they do. Probably should have bought me a copy for the coffee table as well, especially for the days I have guests drop in for dinner when we didn’t cook enough for extra people.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      She’s almost 6! It sure goes by fast. She did transitional kindergarten last year since her birthday is after the kindergarten cutoff by a couple of weeks. She was VERY ready for school to start this year. πŸ™‚

      Aww, I remember reading Narnia with my dad, too! And my daughter loves the Bob books. Those are the Dick and Jane of today, I think.

  5. Carol Ashby says:

    Off topic, but Andrew is in a lot of pain, and it’s probably only going to get worse. He could use our prayers.

    • Andrew is never off-topic, Carol.
      *
      Lord, hold our dear friend in the palm of your hand. Be his strength, his shield and his joyful song.

    • And he hasn’t posted a comment yet which is unusual for him. So let’s please remember him and Barb in prayer. A dear friend of our family passed from the same cancer–pancreatic.He was in horrible pain just prior to going to heaven.
      My heart and prayers go out to Andrew and Barb.

    • LC Plaunt says:

      I’ve been a faithful reader of this blog for a couple years now. Although I don’t comment often, I do read the comments. So you don’t know me, but I feel like I know some of you. I feel like I know Andrew, and my eyes filled with tears to read that he is in more pain. I will definitely pray for him.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Praying for Andrew!

  6. Reading to children truly is a joy for all involved. I remember as a young child having my mom read books like A Little Princess and the Little House on the Prairie series. I was always up for “one more chapter.” πŸ˜‰
    Although I don’t have any children of my own, I’m quite a bit older than my youngest brother, and I still treasure the hours spent reading together before he hit his teen years and reluctantly broke the news that he was too old. We got in a lot of stories before then – everything from middle-age chapter books to Kathy Tyers’ sci-fi and Michael Phillips historical. Now I’m working on my niece.

  7. Rachel, oh how exciting to send your daughter to Kindergarten! It will be fun for you and your husband to hear how her first day went, I loved Kindergarten, and still remember several things: the name of my teacher-Mrs. Dunlop, that I had the longest first name to learn to spell, getting shuffled off to the girls kitchen area after I had gotten the boys upset by trying to show then the right way to make a house out of the cardboard blocks, reading and singing time, and that the cream in the butter churn turned to butter on my second turn churning! My son loved Kindergarten as well.

    I cannot remember a time out mother did not read to us. I had two older sisters by the time I was born four years after the first, and I remember her reading to us daily, and in all the voices. She made it great fun to sit and listen too, I did the same for my son, who is now 23 and getting married this September 15th, ten days before my husband’s and my 25th wedding anniversary. It will also be the first time me and my four sibling have been all together at once since 2007 at our mother’s funeral. And all five of us our a reflection of our parents love of reading. Both parents read daily on their own, books, magazines, the back of record covers, and anything else that had words on. I still remember my stay-at-home mom taking time to work with each of us to learn to read. All of us have shelves of books, books on counters, and neatly stacked on sofa tables (well, my brothers not so neat…smile) and we all are reading something on a daily basis. My sister has even worked with her local library volunteer Friends of the Library Committee. You can obviously see we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read. My husband is a reader too, but not because he was read to, or even helped with his school work, but because he enjoys learning. Our son had an eye disorder that affected his ability to read, that was thought related to a need for glasses and ADHD. It was neither, Just before fourth grade we took him to a specialist a friend suggested. He had a tracking disorder and a binocular vision disorder that required four months of twice a week 40 minute session of visual rehab at the specialist, and I did home eye rehab thirty minutes everyday with him until he announced that the letters and numbers he saw weren’t moving around anymore. When further questioned, he said the letters and numbers were like the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious moving all around on his papers and books. After he was treated, it made a huge difference in his learning and behavior in school. He thought everyone saw like him, and that he was just dumb. Since then, I have been able to help others get their children properly diagnosed and get the help they need instead of a label they don’t need. Unfortunately, he is not a reader now, due to being very busy with music productions, two jobs, and everything else that he uses his phone for everything. His soon to be bride is like me and LOVES books. She reads daily.

    Thanks again for this post Rachel. I love to hear how people developed a love for books and reading.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Awww, congratulations to your son and his soon-to-be wife! What an exciting time. And congrats to you on 25 years! πŸ™‚ God is good!

  8. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    What a sweet post, Rachel–thank you for this! I remember my Mom reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and leaving the endings off the sentences so I could fill them in. I think the books she read to me was why I enjoy poetry, lyrical & descriptive writing, as well as the music we listened to. πŸ™‚ It does so much for people’s outlook on life.

    β€œFinally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable β€” if anything is excellent or praiseworthy β€” think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8).

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I’m having a terrible time getting comments to work today! I hope these come through!

      My daughter LOVES The Night Before Christmas. She is such a deep thinker and I think the poem and it’s lyrical verses resonate with her. I think she will love reading poetry books when she’s a little older, too. We actually read The Night Before Christmas on the 13th! πŸ™‚ Last night was The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale.

  9. Lara Hosselton says:

    My mom read to us and I read to my kids, even as infants. Those are cherished memories on both accounts. My married daughter and her husband actually take turns reading novels to each! I think reading is so fundamentaly important to a child’s development that I always make books my go-to
    baby shower gift.
    Great post Rachel. I’m sure your daughter will be an awesome student.

  10. I loved reading aloud with my kids and am more than a little sad that the time is gone. My youngest started reading well before kindergarten, but my older son had more trouble. He had an eye condition that made reading a challenge. We compensated by reading out loud to him as much as possible. So he still learned a deep respect and passion for story and for books. When we addressed his eye condition, he jumped into reading with both feet (or eyes, rather). Now he still prefers mangas, but he also loves classic novels like Lord of the Rings and Dracula. And he’s an awesome story-teller, too!

  11. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. I’m sure my mother must have read to me, but I don’t recall it. The days I remember vividly are of me sitting in my room reading book after book. The Pony Engine–more commonly known as The Little Engine That Could–was my favorite. I can still see the cover in my mind. I also enjoyed the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries as I got older.

    Wishing your daughter a blessed school year.

  12. Years ago I read about a study where the highest functioning students in the highest rated Universities in the USA were interviewed to find out the best method of teaching reading. The only thing the students had in common was that their parents read to them all the time when they were little kids. Sorry I can’t remember what book I saw that ing.

  13. Sherry Kyle says:

    Yes, my parents read to us. Pilgrim’s Progress was my favorite as a child. My dad also read to us from the Bible every evening after dinner. Precious memories! When my kids were small, I took them to the library every couple of weeks to pick out a new set of books. What wonderful memories.

  14. Rachel Kent says:

    For some reason I can’t reply to comments anymore! Thank you all for weighing in on the post. I really enjoyed your notes here!

  15. Dear Rachel, your childhood sounds like it was idyllic. Books belong in every home that has children. Your daughter is blessed.
    My dad was my main mentor for reading since he read to me. But I can’t overlook my mom’s influence as she modeled a love of books too.

  16. Emily Ryan says:

    My mother was an avid reader and I caught the bug big time! Now I love sharing books with my four children, and one of our favorite things to do is listen to audiobooks in the car. Their ages range from six to twelve, but that gap disappears within the plot of a really great story.

    Two books that breathed life into my journey as a reading mom were The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma and The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie.

  17. My parents read to us every night until we were old enough to read by ourselves. My brother and I could each choose one picture book to be read to us. Only one! And he chose the same one every single night when we could have been hearing different ones. I guess hearing The Animals of Farmer Jones over and over again made him feel
    safe, but I found it boring.

  18. Robin Steinweg says:

    I almost cried reading the poem–my sweetest family times happened in the middle of my boys snuggled up (or running Hot Wheels over the carpet) as I read to them. And favorite times now include our two-year-old granddaughter laughing at books by Sandra Boynton or Mo Willems.
    Thank you, Rachel, for this post. And may your daughter have a wonderful kindergarten year!

  19. Shirley Whitman says:

    I was an introspective, imaginative child and I think it was natural to turn to books. They made wonderful companions. I devoured books by Gene Stratton-Porter and Eleanor Porter and anything with horses as the heroes. Later, I was fond of Taylor Caldwell, Pearl Buck and others. My spiritual life was greatly influenced by Catherine Marshall’s “A Man Called Peter”. My happiest times with my children were when I was reading to them. We read Watership Down for the second time when they were in their teens. Books will always be a crucial part of my life. Now I’m also writing them!