Giving Thanks for the Gift of Reading

Nov 17, 2017
Written by cmcguire
Here at the Library we are making plans for the next three years of our strategic plan. We don’t have the specifics worked out yet, but we will focus on early childhood and family literacy. We chose this role based on the results of community surveys we took earlier this year.
I am thankful that my parents gave me the gift of loving to read. I am not sure it was a conscious effort on their part. Parenting wasn’t as planned back then as it is now. However, they were both always reading something. They took us to the library once a week. They also read to us every night at bedtime. I especially liked when my dad read to us because he was rather antisocial. This was probably the most important connection I had with him. All of my grandparents and my favorite aunt read to us when we were together.
I remember how excited I was one day when my mom suggested that I read to my brother, who is five years younger than me. I think she just needed a break from her three bickering children, but I took on this task with great pleasure. I am happy to have played a small part in developing his love of reading. My sister, always one to be different, liked being read to but didn’t like to read herself. She thought it was boring. It has taken her several decades, but lately she has jumped on the reading bandwagon. Better late than never.
As I am sure I have mentioned previously, I started reading to my son when he was a few days old. His dad, who was a chemistry professor at the time, read chemistry books to him while preparing his lectures. Like the both of us, our son learned to read early. He quickly outgrew the level of books taught in each grade as he excelled in school. As an adult, he favors reading non-fiction. I wonder if the chemistry books influenced this preference.
Some people aren’t fortunate to have this reading gift as part of their family values. For me it is such a natural part of my life that I don’t really understand why it isn’t important to everyone. My family was not wealthy. Neither of my parents went to college and neither of them were particularly good students. My dad’s parents were immigrants and didn’t speak English when they came here. My in-laws both left school by the sixth grade because they had to help their parents on their dairy farms. Despite all of this, our families encouraged education and used reading to spend quality time with their children.
We hope to help families understand the value of reading to children at an early age and the life-long benefits that reading can provide for everyone. The only thanks we seek is for children and adults get excited about reading and discover how it can improve their lives.