Books and Children

I LOVE Books! Plain and simple. Some of my best Christmas gifts through the years have been books.

When I was in middle and high school, I would look forward with great anticipation to my Christmas books. The only problem…I had final exams after Christmas break. I would read my books then feel guilty about not studying for final exams. The entire Christmas break I would study for an hour then read for a couple of hours. You can guess that I did not want to do anything else but read.

When I think about my children I see three very different readers. My oldest is a natural, voracious reader. I wonder sometimes if she reads because she was born that way or does she read because from infancy she was read to. Now I did not read to her in utero, but at one day old I read Goodnight Moon to her at bedtime. She would demand book after book.

As a new mom I was nonplussed about what to do with a new baby…once I fed her, changed her, put her down for a nap…what then. I knew I had to play with her to teach her how to interact with toys, but I found reading to her to be much easier for me to do. So, books were a great way for me to bond with my baby. I would play with with toys during many waking hours, but I preferred to read to her over anything else.

My second daughter kind of debunks the whole nature vs. nurture myth. She was raised in the same environment as her sister, was read to almost as often, yet she is not an avid reader. I gave her the same opportunities for reading as her sister…books in her room and other rooms of the house, but she never showed as must interest in books. She never protested when I read to her, but when it came time for her to read on her own. Well let’s just say that my gray hair may not be a total coincidence. From kindergarten through 3rd grade, she would read but never without a great degree of enthusiasm. I was perplexed and, I regret to say, maddened by her reluctance to read. She would do anything to avoid reading…even telling me that she had read a book when she clearly had not. In 3rd grade she met her reading goal, but if I am being honest she could not have done it without my prodding.

The summer between 3rd and 4th grade I had her tested…I was stunned to find she had ADHD. Yes, she was distracted in school and homework was a nightmare due to her task avoidance, but she was a sweet and helpful child, not wild at all. After the intial shock we headed on the path to medication. My husband and I were not happy using medication. I’m 43 and take no daily meds. Once she was on medication…it was like night and day. Her focus was amazing. She started wanting to read books. My husband would come downstairs and say that our daughter had asked to read later than her bedtime…unheard of in our house. So, now we have a 5th grader who loves to read–amazing.

My son is more like my oldest in that he is an early reader, but like my second daughter he will not pick up a book. We’ll see.

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