What do I LOVE about reading? Just about everything!
I love learning new things, hearing various characters’ perspectives, and being able to expand my understanding of those perspectives. I loved reading to our children as they were growing up because I could see so clearly the interest and learning that emerged as we moved through so many remarkable books for children. And I’ve certainly loved reading with my grandchildren during our visits together. In these reading times, I’ve learned more about each of them, we’ve enjoyed and shared our thoughts about the very interesting things that emerge in books that we’re reading, and we’ve often simply enjoyed the sweetness of time spent together in reading.
Why is reading stories to our children so important (and often so much fun)? And why is reading sometimes hard, sometimes inspiring, but almost always full of new ideas and new learning for our children?
One answer is that in reading, we (adults and children) very often learn new things as we read—and often learn much more about those “new things” than we might have thought possible. In reading excellent children’s books, we help our children (and our students, for those who teach) understand more about themselves, more about others, and more about those with whom we live and play and learn.
In going through many of the children’s books that we’ve read with our children and grandchildren over the years, some definitely stand out for their deeply thoughtful perspectives, observations, and important understandings about children’s learning and so many aspects of children’s lives as they grow up within their families, neighborhoods and the schools they attend.
One of my favorite children’s books, by Patricia McKissack (author) and Jerry Pinkney (illustrator), is The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll, published in 2007. This story describes a family with three children growing up during the time of the Depression. Mama and Daddy both work very hard, and their three daughters (Eddy Bernice, Nella, and Dessa) work at doing the things their parents need them to do, and spend a lot of time playing together when they can. As Christmas nears, the family’s middle daughter Nella makes it very clear that the only thing she wants for Christmas is a “Baby Betty” doll. Her big sister, Eddy Bernice, scolds her: “We’re in a Depression! Why are you wishin’ for somethin’ you’re never going to get?” Nella refuses to give up her hopes, though, and sends a letter off to Santa Claus asking for a Baby Betty doll.