Story Time with Callister
There are many benefits of reading to your child or grandchild, even before they are old enough to comprehend the words.
A love of reading and books is one of my earliest memories. I vividly remember the excitement of riding my purple stingray with the banana seat to the bookmobile, climbing the steps, feeling the welcomed rush of cool air and anxiously inhaling the unmistakable heavenly smell of books. It was a magical world (cue the unicorns, rainbows and kittens) where I could escape to learn about other places and people, have vicarious adventures and find a happily ever after I didn’t always see in the real world. Did I love reading because it was one of the few things I was good at or was I a good reader because I loved it so much?
The love of reading, planted early, has continued to grow deep roots and provide many benefits for me over the years. I read to my children and now as a grandmother, I have a goal of instilling the love of reading in my grandchildren. I admit, in the first month or two, I sometimes felt a little silly reading books to a newborn who seemed to have no real comprehension or interest, but I read and told him stories every time I saw him. Now in the fourth month of his life, I am beginning to see the results of those early days of reading. He seems to light up when I read one of the regulars, Dr. Seuss’s ABC book or “Green Eggs and Ham.” He doesn’t yet understand the meaning of the words, but he is learning about language and associating words with books. Just recently, he has started looking at the pages of a book and babbling. He is also hopefully beginning to associate books with pleasure.
One of the activities I’ve been doing in the last month with Callister is taking him to story time on Wednesday mornings at the Schusterman-Benson Library at 32nd Place and Harvard. Joy Carr, the children’s librarian, presents “My First Storytime for Babies and Toddlers” to an enthusiastic group of children, parents and grandparents. Ms. Carr has a talent for engaging even the youngest children with songs, movement, and of course, books! The same songs are sung each week, which is perfect for young children, as repetition is essential for learning. Each week there is a theme, such as farm animals or apples, and two books are read about that theme. Additional books correlating with the weekly theme are displayed and available for checkout. Since my parenting skills are a bit rusty, I appreciate reading readiness tips given to the parents and grandparents each week.
Tulsa City-County Libraries provide story time for different ages and includes bilingual story time. Visit the Tulsa Kids website to see the complete list of story times offered by the library. The libraries I have visited in Tulsa have a great children’s section that are arranged to attract the attention of children and some, including the Schusterman-Benson library, have a small play area that is conducive to allowing young children to play while their adult caregivers supervise. We are lucky to have such a wonderful public library system, and I encourage you to fully utilize it!
Some of the benefits associated with reading to children include:
- A bonding experience- Cuddling up with your grandchild reading a book is a chance to slow things down, turn off the technology and enjoy each other.
- Preparation for academic success- Numerous studies have shown that children that are read to as preschoolers generally have a higher rate of academic success in school.
- Reading helps develop speech skills- By listening to you read, your grandchild is learning speech skills and beginning to understand how sounds form language. It also helps them with the concept that text and words are related.
- Better concentration- Depending on the age and personality of your grandchild, they may not make it through an entire book before they want to move on to something else, but most children will eventually learn to stay for the entire book. Reading time teaches them to have a longer attention span, stronger self-discipline and helps improve their memory.
- Instill the idea that reading is fun- As grandparents we are in the fortunate position of being fun, indulgent family members. Therefore, if we read to our grandchildren it will promote the idea that reading is a pleasurable, desirable activity.
Grandparents have wonderful opportunities to provide enriching, fun activities with grandkids and sharing the love of reading is a very beneficial and bonding activity. Read, talk and sing to your grandchild when you see them. If you don’t live close, you can read a book via Facetime or Skype, or you can mail a book to your grandchild the old fashion way. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get a package in the mail? A grandparent can help instill the love of reading, a wonderful gift that will reap many rewards and last a lifetime.