Instilling a Love for Literature

As a life-long reader, reading is one of the most important values I hope to share with my grandchildren.

Reading is one of my great passions in life, one that has endured through the years. From a very young age, books provided entertainment, escape and education. I sat in trees to read, I laid in bed reading with a flashlight late at night and often hid a book under the table to read as my family ate dinner.

The strangest place I read was sitting on my horse’s back as she grazed, no saddle, no reigns, I would lose myself in literary adventures as she meandered around our acreage eating grass. One day I didn’t notice the horse was slowly ambling towards the clothesline. One moment I was reading about Homer Price and his escapades with the donut machine and the next moment I was flat on my back gazing up into the sun but seeing stars.  That fall didn’t damper my love of reading but it did make me more selective with my choice of places to read.

My library card from 1969, one of my prized possessions!

To feed my addiction to books I became a frequent visitor to the library, a much safer if less bucolic place to immerse myself in books. A bike and my very own library card gave me the freedom to visit the bookmobile and check out as many books as I could carry in my bike basket.  Over fifty years and thousands of books later, I’m still in awe each time I go to the library: they actually trust me to take home all these books?! Even more amazing, it’s free?!

When my children were young, we made a trip to the library every week to check out books, and as they grew older we took advantage of some of the reading programs and book clubs for kids.  I wanted my children to love reading but I also knew it was essential for cognitive development. Some studies show that reading to your children every day is one of the biggest factors in future academic success.  I was a strict parent about the music they listened to, the television and movies they watched, but I had lax rules about reading material, only limiting violent or sexual materials that were age inappropriate.

Reading to my 2 week old grandson, it’s never too early!

Now I’m a grandmother and the love of reading is one of the most important values I want to share with my grandchildren. Grandparents are in a great position to instill the love of reading in children and both generations benefit from reading together. Begin reading to them as early as possible; it’s never too soon.

I love to use character voices and inflection to pull them into the story and help it come alive. My nine-month-old grandson is hooked as soon as he hears my high squeaky three little pigs voice and my deep scary big, bad wolf voice.

Pause occasionally to ask them questions about the story: What do you think might happen next, which character do you like the best? Interactive reading tends to help them pay attention and learn to retain information from books.  The children’s librarian at Schusterman Benson gives a literary tip each week at storytime, and she recently suggested occasionally pointing to the words as you read so they understand there is a link between the printed letters and the words you read.

If you’re a lucky grandparent and see your grandkids frequently, take them to the library and make it a positive experience. Allow them to choose books that appeal to their interests. If you’re unsure of appropriate age level books, librarians are a great resource, or check out the Scholastic website for guidance.

Be a good example; if your grandchildren see you read, they will view reading as a desirable activity and be motivated to imitate you. Take a book along with you wherever you go with your grandchild. I always stick at least one book in the diaper bag so I can read to my grandson while we are waiting for food to arrive in a restaurant or if we’re delayed at an appointment. If you are a long-distance grandparent you can Skype or Facetime as you read to your grandchild. For older grandchildren, consider a magazine subscription that appeals to their interests. It’s hard to combat the attraction of computer games and electronics, but if the love of reading is instilled early, it stands a better chance.

Instill the love of reading early!    

Tulsa City-County Library

The library is an important partner with families in the endeavor to encourage reading, and Tulsans are incredibly fortunate to have libraries that offer many resources. If you haven’t recently visited a Tulsa library you’ll be amazed at the wide variety of services the library offers! You can find storytimes offered somewhere in Tulsa almost every day of the week, including family and bilingual storytimes.

A bonus discovery for me was the play areas at many of the libraries. There is a fantastic supply of puzzles and toys for preschoolers- all free of charge! For older kids there are afternoon homework clubs, summer reading programs, creative writing contests and book clubs.  Library cards are required to check out books, music, audiobooks and DVDs, but a card is not required to participate in any of the programs, including the summer reading program. Children of any age may apply for their own card free of charge. To learn how to apply for a card and get a full listing of all the programs the Tulsa libraries offer, visit the Tulsa Library website.

Callister loves storytime and also the great toys at the Tulsa public libraries!

Magic City Books

If you’re in the market to buy books, I highly recommend a trip to Magic City Books, Tulsa’s new nonprofit bookstore, independently owned by Tulsa Literary Coalition. It’s a charming little bookstore reminiscent of the old bookstores complete with friendly, knowledgeable staff members. Despite the small size (which is a good thing!) Magic City has a great selection of beautiful children’s books including those by TulsaKids editor, Betty Selakovich Casey. Magic City Books also has a wonderful coffee shop so you can indulge in beverages, sweets and literature in one shop!

Callister and his granddad enjoyed Christmas shopping at Magic City!

Next time your grandchildren visit, turn off the television, move away from the computer and bring out the books. Cuddle up with the little ones, sit beside the older ones and bond together over some great books. Don’t worry if you’re not the best reader; your grandkids will relish the time spent with you and always remember a positive association with your love for them and the love of books.

Categories: Grand Life