Indeed, all 176 pages are jam-packed with recommendations for fun books to read aloud—organized by age/reading level and with helpful notes about each. Quite a few of the books my son and I return to again and again are on the list. And while many of our favorites did not get in, I am excited to start sampling the ones we haven't yet read. I regard the book like a menu: Depending upon our mood, we may sample one or two today, one or two tomorrow, and please our literary palate in a different manner with each sitting.
Reading Together Throughout Childhood
"There is a general misconception that when children have learned to read, adults should stop reading to them," writes Reid in the book's introduction. On the contrary, there is ample evidence indicating that reading to children of all ages helps them achieve success in the long run. And why stop now that they've reached a point where they may even share your sense of humor?!
In another of the 92Y talks (read about the other speakers in my previous posts), Dr. Lydia Soifer, an NYC-based language specialist and educational consultant with more than 35 years experience in clinical practice, spoke at length about the importance of reading to our kids. "Words influence cognition from the very first months of life," she said. In fact, "Language is the thread in the patchwork quilt of child development."
Did you know that at 2 to 3 years old a youngster is usually able to listen to a story for 10-20 minutes? By age 4 or 5, according to Soifer, “they can use language to imagine.” And by the time he's 10 he's got a vocabulary of tens of thousands of words! Talk and talk and talk with your children. In so doing, we are helping them crack the language code. And then? Soifer exudes, "Once they learn to read, there’s no stopping them!"
The Changing Face of the Modern Library
Libraries are no longer all about books. As a recent article in The New Republic about libraries becoming new media centers states, "a digital copy of the Library of Congress’s entire book collection could fit in a single shoebox." The New York Public Library headquarters has proposed a massive reconfiguration, pages are being replaced by digital screens for many, and kids don't seem to have a problem reading entire titles on their smart phones. And yet, libraries will never not be about books in some capacity (thank goodness).
"The library is one of the greatest inventions in the world (up there with the car and the iPod and the snowblower...)," writes Reid. My son and I have been taking weekly walks to the Park Slope branch on Fifth Ave. The DVDs are admittedly scratched at times, but the books are what we really go for anyway. A remnant of our constant pretend-pirate play, my son whispers dramatically to me that "we've found treasure" as we carry our finds to the check-out area.
I'll be thrilled if he is able to carry that sense of wonder about books throughout his life. My mother passed on to me a great heritage of reading for the love of it—for knowledge, for emotional purging, for gaining understanding, for everything—and seeing that love affair blossom in my son is simply wonderful.