If you’ve watched any amount of the Nick Jr. channel since your kid was born (and don’t lie, you know you have), you’ve had a talking moose all up in your face, bombarding you with the phrase “read to your kids 20 minutes a day and inspire a lifetime of learning.” Reading to your kids is immensely important, even if you think you’re just reading to an out-of-control tornado. At literally every step of development, your kids are listening to your voice and speech patterns and developing their sense of what “correct” speech sounds like – and not to mention, they’re also creating an emotional bond with you as the person sitting there reading to them.
Think about it this way – since your kids learn how to talk from how they hear YOU talk, you want to have a time where you’re giving them some “good input” – that is, sentence structure that’s better than your day-to-day slang-filled conversations. I know it’s cute when your kid repeats the f-bombs you drop, or when they say “no way dude,” because they heard you say it – but it’s much more of a crowd-pleaser when they recite Rudyard Kipling, believe me.
We’ve all heard about the importance of reading to our children as soon as they claw their way out of our wives’ vaginas. When you’ve got a small baby, any old video game magazine will do – babies just need to hear phonetic sounds and hopefully see a couple of colorful pictures. Later on, though, toddlers need something interesting to keep them involved. Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama is a sing-songy rhyme about a llama with maternal separation anxiety. Your toddler will love it, and you’ll love teaching your children about mommy’s midlife crisis. You and your child will bond in fear of awakening mommy’s inner beast.
Last week I went to our school’s Fall open house with my big guy. We did the running tour of the school, fighting the crowds through the classroom, the gym, the art room, the music room, the gym again, and finally the lunch room. Why did we end up back in the gym? Well, that’s where they were doing the Scholastic book fair, of course! It was a portrait of chaos. A few dozen parents were getting whipped around the aisles, dragged along by a swarm of hyper kiddos.
I didn’t get sucked in right away. I cut a deal early. “One book, any book…you pick,” I told my little dude. He was jumping in place, but he heard me. Thank goodness. When I cut him loose, he did exactly what I hoped he’d do – he dashed right for the Star Wars shelf. He shocked me when he came right back holding Star Wars ABC, the book you see in the title image. Apparently he already knew what he wanted me to get. By this point, I suspected the school had toured the kids through the book sale earlier in the day. It was either that or he just liked the robots on the cover.
I wanted to make sure he was sure of his choice, so I took him through all the aisles. “Do you want that one? What about this one?” It was no use; he was locked in to his choice. It turns out that the book he picked is an amazing book that I recommend to anyone with young readers. Let me tell you why you should hand over some of your hard-earned cash to George Lucas, the guy who’s about to squeeze another victory lap out of films that he made around 30 years ago (ho-lee whaaaa?).