I have an affliction. I discovered it some 40 years ago when I read “I am a Bunny”, the first book we bought for April, our first child. I could not get through two sentences without yawning wildly – long, deep, eye closing, quivering yawns! I didn’t think much of it until it hit me again just a few sentences later. (I’m actually yawning now, just thinking about it.)
Now I’m reading to my grandchildren and it still happens. I can’t explain it. I try to talk through the yawns so the kids don’t get bored waiting for me to recover. But all they hear from my gaping mouth is, “My ame is ickoyas, I… ive ina ha-ha-ha-whoa wee”. (Translated: “My name is Nicholas, I live in a hollow tree.”) But, despite my all-but-smooth delivery, I brave on because reading to children is so important to their development.
Men who don’t enjoy reading to their children are missing not only a great bonding experience, but are failing in the important role of nurturing. Reading to your kids expands their vocabulary and sparks their imagination. It is a great way to connect with them. Babies love your attention and the sound of your voice is soothing and reassuring. Toddlers like the stories, eventually connecting the words with pictures. Books become a symbol of love, learning, and relationships, hopefully becoming an important part of their entire lives.
Children learn to love the sound of language before they even know about the words on the page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm of language become a part of a child's life, learning to read and reading to learn will be natural steps to follow.
Reading together is fun family time; a time to not only share your passions, views, and establish values, but also a time to listen and learn about your kids. It creates a time for children to ask questions as well as an opportunity for parents to show their kids how important they are to you.
Yes, I’ve struggled mightily to not yawn as I’ve read to my children and grandchildren. But they have never complained and always would be patient with me. The memories of the many books, some having been read over and over again, are precious to me. They may not remember those times as well as I do, but they have surely benefited in many ways, as I have benefited especially in deep breathing!