How to Get Bound with a Book

My dad died a long time ago,  long before I had children. Yet, among other things, we are still bound by a book. It’s a hardcover edition of Mark Twain’s short stories. My dad bought it when I was a toddler and gave it to me the night before I got married, telling me that Twain’s humor and wisdom would come in handy in the years ahead. It did, and it still does.

book_boundWhen you share a book with someone it’s as if you’re saying “I value what’s in this book enough to want to share it with you because I value you too.” Simple sentiments become more powerful when accompanied by a book.

Parents of small children know how important “book/cuddle time” is to raising a reader and making essential connections. Parents of preteens and teens can continue to build a special closeness through books:

• Read books that you can both enjoy and then talk about them later (e.g., obvious – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; not-so-obvious The Help by Kathryn Stockett)

• Share a genre — humor, mystery, romance, travel, horror — when it may not be appropriate to share the same book. Conversations will morph as your child to “grows into” your reading level.

• Look for authors with books that are “crossover” titles or that have been made into movies you can watch after reading the book (e.g., The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford)

• Some authors may surprise you. If you’re reading a James Bond story by Ian Fleming maybe Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang – also written by Fleming – will appeal to your son or daughter.

• Look for authors that write specifically for people of all ages. Introduce books by those authors into your child’s early years and let them grow along with the author’s books (e.g., Jacqueline Woodson and Patricia McKissack offer picture books through young adult literature. Ridley Pearson and Judy Blume have written books for readers of all ages.)

• Read non-fiction books about things of interest to both of you. (Books about sports figures are favorites in our house along with books about musicians, artists, world history, poetry and space exploration.)

• Ask your son or daughter pick a book for you to read. (My 13-year old made me a fan of Edgar Allan Poe.)

• Attend author visits together at your local library or bookstore.

Yesterday, my son asked, “Mom, if you were an author, which one would you want to be?” That really got me thinking. And it got us talking.

What books have made a difference to you as a child? As a parent? What tips can you offer to strengthen a parent-child “book link” ?

Expert Mommy, Diane Asyre is a professional writer and owns Asyre Communications.

Comments

  1. Good article, Diane! My family always comments on how much our kids read and then ask how we instilled this love of reading in them. Frankly, with my husband travelling so much, I was always exhausted at night when they were young, so nightly reading was an independent thing for them usually. They were allowed to grab a pile of books and climb into their own beds, reading themselves to sleep. It was a special night if we piled in my bed together for Goodnight Moon, Are You My Mother, Where the Wild Things Are, etc. I used to feel guilt over the fact I was too tired for chapter books, but just smile over that guilt now. Somehow, they all turned into voracious readers! On a typical vacation they will each read several books, trading them back and forth. I feel so fortunate that they enjoy reading…summer vacations were pretty boring at our house so books were the answer, I suppose. We would go to the library to get them. The funny part was I required them to get 10 books each because then I knew exactly how many to return the next time we went and it also gave them a wide selection to pick from for the 14 days. They coveted their library cards (the predecessor to their Visa cards, I suppose!) and would each hand me their little wallets to keep for them as we perused the shelves.

    All three of our kids scored very high on ACT/SAT reading tests, a testament to the importance of the written word! You suggestions were very good. Your boys will all benefit from your caring enough to turn them into knowledge seekers/readers. Thanks for sharing your article—it brought back some good memories!

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  2. Karen,
    The idea of the 10 books at a time from the library such a great one! It’s not only a good memory “trick” but kids do need choices. Sometimes mine are just not interested in the one or two books they have at hand. I’m taking your tip and we’ll be bringing home more from the library from now on.

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  3. I just bought me baby-to-be her first book yesterday. It was Corduroy because I remember how the sibilance and cadence of the book would fascinate my niece when she was little. That is one of the things I can’t wait to share with my new baby :)

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  4. Diane Asyre says:

    Melody,
    First, your baby-to-be is so lucky you already know the value of connecting with a child via a book. Secondly, I’m lucky too – I’d forgotten about Corduroy and now it is on my holiday gift list for our friend’s 3 year old. You are so right about the phonetics/rhythm – I love the warmth of the illustrations too. Thanks for giving me a memory push!

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  5. A favorite for the babies in my house is Spring is Here by Taro Gomi. So simple yet when we read it to my little girl at 18 mos., you would have thought it was The Titanic… her eyes would get so big at the “Storms Rage” page.

    Does anyone else have favorites to read with their kids?

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  6. Zen Mommy says:

    how cool a question for your son to ask you… which author would you be? and btw… Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite poets. the road less traveled? words to live by.

    Favorite in our home? Vera the Mouse right now… lol… the series of which my 6 yo is reading to me.

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  7. Books bring back some of my best memories. Both as a child and as a mom, literature is central to my life. Since it is the holiday season I will share this idea. All my friends had purchased Advent Calendars counting down the days to Christmas. Somehow a piece of chocolate didn’t do much for the magic of the holidays. Instead I bought (or found in the stacks of books at my house) holiday themed books and old favorites. I wrapped them in Christmas paper or newspaper and had them stacked up by the big old couch. Each night my children took turns selecting a wrapped book and by candlelight we would read that very special book. Those were magical moments year after year.

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  8. Marty,
    You deserve the 2009 award for the most creative advent activity. I’ve got to Tweet about your comment. Thanks for sharing something so clever, affordable and that strengthens parent/child connections.

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