I was a bookworm from an early age. I spent my childhood wandering the prairies with Laura Ingalls. I hunted for clues with Nancy Drew, and I swam the channel to visit the wild ponies of Chincoteague. I spent my allowance at the local bookstore or at neighbors’ yard sales where I scavenged for Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. These adventures to places near and far with “friends” on the written page taught me a great deal about life, and fueled my aspirations to someday write stories of my own.
My children had their own set of literary heroes, chief among them Harry Potter. We listened to cassette recordings of the series, and refereed who would read our copy of each new release first. There were Halloween costumes, and roleplay, and bedroom decorations; but most of all there were hours spent reading. My kids both grasped the written word eagerly, as an old friend. From my son’s first R.L. Stine “chapter books” to my daughter’s Princess Diaries collection, books became a big part of their lives, and their academic success.
I am a firm believer that one of the best gifts we can give our children is a deep, abiding love of reading. Not only does reading for enjoyment help develop their vocabulary and comprehension, it stimulates their imaginations. An entire new world, or many worlds, opens to children when they discover a love of literature.
Tomorrow’s scientists, doctors, teachers, police officers, and of course, writers, can be born out of the inspiration they find in books. Give them the fuel for their dreams, and watch what they achieve. They can explore an existing passion, or find a new one, by simply picking up a book.
I challenge all parents, grandparents, and anyone who has a special child in their life to spend some time reading with their little ones. Take them to visit your local library, either in person or by downloading the latest release. Visit that disappearing institution, the neighborhood bookstore, if you are lucky to have one nearby. Introduce the children in your life to your own childhood heroes, or pick up a book about one of theirs. You may just find a new passion yourself. Most importantly of all, spend some quality time with your loved ones as you lose yourselves to a new world only visible through an author’s vision.
Here’s hoping you have time to enjoy a good book this evening. (If you’re like me and live in the Midwest, it’s a much better option than venturing out amidst tornado and flood watches!)