Reading Is a Gift
Written by Kenna McHugh
“I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp.” —JK Rowling
My mother, a single parent of three children, never had time to read to us, although she viewed reading as important. So I was never a reader, but rather a TV watcher and moviegoer. This limited my knowledge about history, cultures, and life. I never knew what I was missing until I started reading to my daughter, and I discovered the benefits of not only reading to her, but also of being a reader myself.
Shortly after her birth, my mother, now retired, stressed the importance of reading to my daughter, her precious granddaughter. She felt guilty for not reading to me. It worked and every night I read to my daughter until she read out loud and eventually on her own.
Now, my daughter is 15 years old and never without a book. She devours books. She knows more about the world, mythology, and history than her friends and classmates. As a result, she has a high grade point average, is well-behaved, very literate and writes wonderful and meaningful prose.
When she was an infant, we used to curl up in bed, and I would read board books to her like “Goodnight Moon,” “Run Away Bunny” and other titles. When the first Harry Potter movie was released, I didn’t see it because my daughter was just a baby. But, when the second movie was released, my daughter was two and told me she wanted to see it because she had seen the first movie with her babysitter on a VHS.
We saw the movie with a friend of mine and her ten years-old daughter. My daughter sat in the dark movie theater, riveted to the movie screen for over two hours. Only the spiders were scary to her.
For several days after, my daughter talked endlessly about Harry Potter. So, my husband bought the first book and started reading it to her every night. The first time he read to her, she looked up at him with her big eyes and said, “There is more in the book than the movie.”
Clearly, she understood the magic of reading a book. I was hooked too. I told my husband, “I want to read Harry Potter to her every night.”
I read every Harry Potter book out loud to my daughter. To this day, I share this love of reading with my daughter. We are closer and connected.
So, I tell my friends and family when they hear of a good book or bestseller, pick it up and read it for pleasure. See if their world doesn’t change or they don’t notice the benefits of being a reader. And, always read to their little ones until they can read on their own. It is truly a gift.