Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mayhem of a bookworm

Long before I knew I was going to become a dad, I wanted to be a dad. When fatherhood was a certainty, I obsessed over on all the things a dad should do. I was concerned about locating a great daycare. I thought about car safety and car seats. I randomly wondered about the best way to respond when your baby cried. I could continue. . .

One that was an extreme concern to me was language development and reading. As a former English teacher, and a reader, writer, and lover of language, I probably dwelled on this topic more than most parents--and I still do.

Months before Lily's birth, I started her online wishlist of books I thought were a must for her childhood bedroom library. I imagined her and I snuggling up to books, reading, laughing, discussing, and appreciating the written word. My dream for her is that she will grow to appreciate the power of words, and a love for storytelling and its connection to the human spirit.

How would I foster this love for reading and books in my daughter?

That exact question is posed in How To Raise A Bookworm, by Leanne Italie, which my wife, Michelle, shared with me almost a year ago. The piece speaks to much of what I know about the extreme importance of reading to children, even as infants:
  • Parent's should read to kids every day.
  • The sound of a parents voice reading to a child turns on switches in their brain during the first two years of life.
  • Reading with a child is an important interactive experience that more parents should be told to do when they leave the hospital with their baby.
After reading How to Raise A Bookworm, my hope for our daughter to have a love for reading was reaffirmed. I want her to have a rich appreciation for learning language and to grow a strong vocabulary. I want her to question and be engaged in the world around her. I want her to see how stories teach us empathy and help build a foundation for strong emotional intelligence.

Reading requires an ability like no other--one that can be applied (and is important for) other life activities--requiring a stillness of body and mind, intense focus, being able to calm oneself in order to become immersed in ideas and a depth of thought.

So... it is fair to say, I am completely obsessed about reading with Lily. I read with her often.

Today when we arrived at home from work/daycare, Lily was being quite fussy. I couldn't figure out what she wanted, and I tried a variety of solutions I thought might pacify a demanding one-year-old girl. Then it dawned on me. She was pointing to the books on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf near the floor in the corner. And she wanted to get to them. She wiggled her 19-pound body into the cramped area and one by one pulled books off the shelf, opened them, spoke some sort of baby-gibberish while flipping through pages, and then reached for another. Mayhem was left behind.

Then, when we were making dinner, Lily was slowly pulling items out of her bag. I thought she was simply doing what she always does: removing items from something and then returning them. This is a regular, favorite activity.

However, she was actually digging for her books.

I'm well on my way to raising a little bookworm.

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