In Memory of Tippu the Mouse and Bully Shrew

Aug 13, 2000

As I myself am not a parent, I cannot give you a parental point of view. However, this is one subject that I will not ignore. The books that my mother read to me when I was a little girl will always stay with me, and so will the time that we spent together.

I can remember in detail almost every story, and I have physically kept with me as many of them as I could; they are precious memories to me, my own secret treasures that only my mother and I know. The evenings that I spent cuddled up to her in my bed, gazing at the illustrations with interest and amazement, are forever a part of me; through these short adventures, I was able to go anywhere, do anything - be anyone. I learned to explore the realms of my imagination, to conquer fears and to face the monsters that we all know. I acquired an appreciation for literature, and I learned to read.

The benefits of reading to your children are priceless ones; the time it takes is nothing compared to how long it will stay with them. Everything is new to a child! The world is a very interesting place, and they cannot see enough of it. What they learn early on will always be a part of who they are - for better or worse. The interests that you help them to develop now will create a basis for what they do later on in life, not to mention the fact that it will leave them with many wonderful, special memories of your time together.

I think it's safe to say that most children's stories have morals. There is a lesson in each of them, and you need to make sure beforehand that it is one that you want to teach your child. As he or she gets older, it will become clear which kinds of characters and stories most appeal to their individual tastes; you may want to search for more stories that approach lessons in a similar manner. But don't leave out the variety or the fun. While you should take the matter seriously, you don't have to be serious - the more you get into and enjoy the stories yourself, the more fun your child will have. I used to love it when my mother did sound effects for the little tug boat - not only did it make me giggle, but it brought the story to life, and made it infinitely more interesting.

I can say without a doubt that being read to as a child contributed more to me than sentimental keepsakes and happy memories - it also helped me to advance academically. Not only was learning to read easy to do, but I enjoyed the entire process. It's so much easier to learn something when it is already familiar to you, and you know how wonderful it will be when you can do it yourself. My mother eased me through the process by switching things around occasionally as I got older; I enjoyed reading to her and proving that I could do it too, and with even better sound effects. My love for the written word has never left me; if anything, it has increased over the years.

When you enjoy books, you enjoy learning - everything we read teaches us something, whether we realize it or not. Fact or fiction, simple or complicated, to read something is to absorb it. Having the interest and focus to become good at it helps to ease the burden of seemingly unrelated tasks; for example, is using context to understand the meaning of an unknown word not a form of logic? Isn't algebra oddly similar?

Sitting your child down in front of a television will never compare to reading to them. While there are many interesting things to be seen and heard on television, what they learn from you will stay with them much longer. You are Mommy or Daddy. You are the hero! You are the one whose approval they really want; television cannot give them the positive reenforcement that you can. And Superman certainly can't pull of the role of the tickle monster, either.

In short, this is one parent/child activity that is invaluable. You as the parent have the opportunity to see the world through a child's eyes once again as you immerse yourself in the stories that will help shape the future; in the process, you will create memories that you yourself will never lose. My mother remembers many of the stories better than I do, and I consider myself lucky that she took it so seriously and enjoyed it so much. Don't treat story time as if it were a chore! You'd be cheating your child as well as yourself.

Reading to your children is a big step toward providing them with a promising future and an inspiring past. Who knows? You might just learn something, too.

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