The Reading Mother
by Strickland Gillilan
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.
Why read aloud?
Children understand what they hear at much higher levels than they can read on their own. Hearing masterful stories develops a child’s imagination, vocabulary, understanding of grammar and sentence structure and even his ability to spell. Best of all it creates warm associations, with both parents and books, that linger and encourage life-long learning and enjoyment.
How can I stir imaginations and create great memories while I read aloud?
Be expressive in your reading. Read slowly enough for children to see pictures and/or create mental pictures of what they are hearing. The more you do it the more naturally it will come to you.
Don’t force children to sit still, but as you begin do encourage them to listen quietly so that they can feel the magic of the story. Mood is an important element. But, don’t stop reading to your children because they won’t be quiet or sit still.
If your children have a hard time sitting still, provide quiet activities for them during story time: Legos, felt dolls, magnetic “paper dolls” or drawing materials. My mother says she could always remember a story that was read to her when she looked at the picture she drew as she listened–even though the picture rarely had anything to do with the story.
When should I begin reading aloud?
The earlier you begin the better. Some studies show that there are tangible benefits to reading to a child even when it is in the womb, but it is never too late to begin building bonds through reading aloud. My parents read to us all the way through our growing up years. I still read to my tweens and teens. And I now read to my father.
Reading aloud and story-telling have created great memories and friendships, bonding me with my grandparents, my parents and my children.