When I was a kid, my favourite thing in the world was to climb up a tree with a book, and lose myself in an imaginary world.
Now that I have my own kids, my favourite thing in the world is to snuggle up with my babies and tell them stories. Sometimes those stories are from books, and sometimes they are from our combined imaginations. Even when those stories don’t make much sense, we have a lot of fun. My kids love to read independently, but there is something extra special about sharing the journey.
Some people love reading. Some people don’t. But all people instinctively love stories.
It’s in our nature as human beings to understand and analyse the world through linguistic narrative. Picture cave-men grunting around an open fire, Vikings reciting a seven-hundred-verse poem, medieval bards singing of chivalry, Indigenous Australians discussing the Dreamtime, and ancient Egyptians explaining the afterlife. Humans have always, and will always, crave stories. Stories allow us to learn, remember, think, grow, investigate, feel, and experience life in a range of unique and important ways.
Throughout history, story telling has been a vital social aspect of daily life. But the world has changed, and the more connected to technology we are, the more we become isolated from those oral traditions.
Where does that leave children who struggle to read, or who find reading too laborious to be pleasurable? Should we just throw some simple, easy-to-read books at these children, and hope for the best?
We need to read to them every day. No, let me rephrase that. We need to read with them every day.
Read hard books. Weird books. Complex, crazy, silly books. All books… except boring books. Children who struggle to read are often very intelligent, and can become stuck in a paradigm of believing that reading is boring, because the reading matter they are given is over-simplified or not stimulating. Kids are smart. Kids need more than, “Look, Fred. Look.”
Read with your kids, and keep reading with your kids, no matter how old they get. Just because they can read by themselves doesn’t mean they should only read by themselves.
Cuddle up, and read with your kids. Do funny voices. Be ridiculous. Laugh. If you don’t, you might accidentally miss out on your happiest future memories.