Monday, January 26, 2009

Reading To My Grandsons

In every room of my house, there are books - even in the bathroom. Reading is a habit I developed as a young child when I first learned to understand the letters grouped together on the page. It is a habit I passed on to my children, and they have done the same to theirs. As a family, we are always sharing the latest find from the library or bookstore that we want someone else to experience. And I always give books as gifts at Christmas. I love the time spent carefully choosing a volume for each recipient.

From the time my grandsons were old enough to sit up, I have read to them. My daughter's sons, now 13 and nearly 12, still ask me to do it. In the last couple of years, the books I've read have been from the Harry Potter series. It is a ritual whenever they visit that I read a chapter or two as they listen while playing individual games of solitaire. Their cries of "Let's read some Harry!" have become a mantra when I ask what they want to do. Their own rooms contain shelves of favorite books, and they are always eager to tell me about what they are currently reading.

My youngest grandson just turned 2, and books are a major part of his day. He will stop playing with toys to be read to, he wants a story before his nap, and several before bedtime. The shelves of his room are filled with books from his father's childhood that I've passed on, as well as new ones he's received. As I read, he will sometimes interrupt, pointing to pictures to ask, "Dat?" (his word for "what's that?"), and sometimes he is more interested in turning pages than listening to the story, but we both enjoy it anyway.

It makes me happy to have passed on this love of reading to my grandsons. I've always said that I don't completely trust people who don't read, who have no books in their homes. I cannot imagine going through a day without a book in my hand at some point. And reading to Alex, Christopher and Fletcher is a joyful memory that I will cherish when they are all grown and off on their own. I still remember reading to their parents when they were young and nothing makes me happier than to carry on the family tradition.

In a world where too many habits of our day are ruled by electronic devices, and everyone seems to be in a hurry, it is comforting to me to have those moments when the only sound is my voice reading aloud. It is then that I glimpse the faces of the children as they absorb the words and, I know, enrich their souls with them.

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