Gift Giving: The Magic of Reading

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”

— Unknown

Escape into the world of books, and you could escape to anywhere.

I’ve always supported this notion, and have experienced the benefit on many occasions. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an avid reader. Growing up I could be found with my nose constantly hidden in books and with only half an ear listening to the conversations around me. At certain times, my mum would have to ‘confiscate’ books so that I didn’t stay up until 4 am reading, and I can strongly remember reading books in class in high school after having finished my work early. I guess that didn’t win me too many friends with either the students or the teacher, not that it particularly bothered me.

I devoured various genres; the classics, the fairy tales, those set above my age and supposed ‘maturity’ allowance and the newest to sit on the Best Seller List.

Harry Potter was read so many times in quick succession that I’ve considered replacing my well-thumbed copies. Anything by John Marsden, Ian McEwan, Melina Marchetta, Alison Lester and anything remotely similar to ‘A Dinner of Herbs’ holds a special space on my bookshelves. Even much treasured kids titles are once again back on the shelves having realised that ‘one can never really grow out of books’.

Sadly I don’t get through many titles at the moment. My bedside table reading pile still features books placed there from last year’s summer reading. These days I find that the capacity within myself to read is strained, what with the year-long responsibility of arduous text books and any additional reading materials. I then endeavour to read things related to child development and anything else that pop up in electronic form via the various social media outlets.

However, as we begin to hit the cruise control over the summer period, I’m once again excited at the prospect of finding some time to wade my way through the teetering pile of ‘holiday reading’.

Reading is an extra curricular activity that I absolutely adore and treasure and consider to be of vital importance, both for adults and children. As a member of the ‘Book Worm Club’, I strive to promote the same membership to the children I care for. Evening story time before bed is a routine that is never forgotten, no matter how tired the kids may be or how busy I may be, afternoon homework and school readers are essential and always done with plenty of time to focus entirely upon the story, and regular trips to the library and book shops are not only encouraged, but pushed until they have no choice but to get on board.

As Christmas and Santa and the season of giving is almost around the corner, I’ve been frantically arranging little gifts for all of my children (there’s a whole tribe of them from various nanny jobs and babysitting nights). This year, as with all other years, I’ve selected books as gifts. Each child has been given a book to suit their interests and reading levels. Something that will be of interest and hopefully spark a desire to turn that first page and to disappear into a world of magic for a little while. I’m aware that because of this choice, I’m at risk of losing my ‘coolness’ title, I’ve not given them the awesome gift they’ve written to Santa about for weeks now. But I am hoping that years from now, those books can still be found on their bookshelves, even when shiny toys lay broken and forgotten.

So here’s a little message from a fellow blogger and school teacher, Norah Colvin, she has some tips about how to make sure your kids stay well read and up to date with literacy over the long summer break.

20 Suggestions for Maintaining Reading Momentum during the School Holidays

(Reblogged from Norah Colvin, you can find her blog HERE)

Please keep in mind, as you read the list, that the amount of support given, or independence allowed, in each activity will need to be adjusted to the individual child’s age and reading ability. Even young children who are not yet reading independently can be included in most activities.

  1.  Read to and with your child every day – continue the practice established throughout the year with special sharing times during the day or at bed-time — or both!
  2. Demonstrate that you value reading by making time for your own reading, or setting aside a special quiet time when everyone in the family reads.
  3. Visit the library and borrow to read, read, read!
  4. Read poetry books, song books, picture books, joke and riddle books, crossword books, information books, chapter books (these can be read to younger children, or witholder children – taking turns to read a page or a chapter each) — what are your favourites?
  5. Trade books no longer read for others at a second-hand book store.
  6.  When dining out, have your children read the menu and choose their own meal.
  7. Include your child in holiday cooking and have them read the recipe – ingredients and method. Perhaps they could read the recipe book to select the meal for the day.
  8. Suggest your child read the TV guide to find when favourite programs are showing and establish a timetable for viewing, rather than haphazard watching with random flicking through channels.
  9. Provide your child with bookstore catalogues and encourage them to read book descriptions to guide their next selection.
  10. Bestow upon your child the title of ‘Family weather watcher’ and have them consult weather forecasts in the newspaper or online to select the most suitable days for planned outings and activities.
  11. Include your child in making decisions about holiday activities. Give them the guide, or read the guide together and jointly choose the activities.
  12. Make the library, museums and art galleries high on the list of must-dos. Many of these offer a wonderful assortment of free holiday entertainment for children, and reading is an essential part of getting the most from each visit! 
  13. Engage your child in some craft activities which require them to follow written instructions. The ability to understand and follow procedures is empowering and requires the ability to read written, as well as visual, instructions.
  14. Encourage your child to ask questions about every day events and phenomena. Help them to research in books at home, in the library or on the internet. 
  15. Provide eBooks as well as books in print. Good ones bring a new dimension to the reading experience.
  16. When going out for the day, or journeying further away on a holiday, support your child in locating destinations on a map and in selecting an appropriate route. Engage your child in giving directions while en route. 
  17. Include your child when reading bus or train timetables.
  18. When doing the family grocery shop, give your child their own list of items to look for. 
  19. Listen to recorded books on long car journeys, or have books for listening to or reading along with in bed.
  20. Make the most of every reading opportunity that occurs throughout the day!

I personally agree wholeheartedly with #2:

Demonstrate that you value reading by making time for your own reading, or setting aside a special quiet time when everyone in the family reads.

.. and think that everything else will stem from that. She then goes on to add a final point, #21:

  21. Give books as gifts!

And once again I agree with her, as demonstrated with my Christmas purchase choices, give books gifts as an avenue to facilitate everything else. Remember,

“The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking that it doesn’t matter.”

― Jim Rohn

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7 responses to “Gift Giving: The Magic of Reading

  1. This is an excellent article. We both certainly share a love of reading, and I know what you mean by the pile of books on the bedside table. Mine is just the same, and the shelves are piled high with books that I’m going to read next. Like you, being an educator, I read so much about child development and learning that the time for reading fiction, poetry and other delights gets squeezed for time. But over the years I have still managed to delve into a variety of genres, and at the moment am extending my ‘reading’ by listening to audiobooks on my long drive to and from work – delightful! Especially when the author is the reader!
    Thank you for sharing my blog. I’m glad you found it useful.
    I’m sure the lucky children who receive their special gifts from you will treasure them for many years to come. They will never forget the very special person who made such a positive impact on their lives. 🙂

  2. Pingback: 20 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the school holidays | Norah Colvin·

  3. A brilliant read in itself. I have to thank my lovely wife for getting me into the habit of reading (I used to dislike it). And now, our son is so much into reading himself that he has his own library (which is as big as my wife and mine combined!

    • Your wife sounds like a wonderful partner in the journey of parenting together. I’m sure your son will always appreciate the opportunities you gave him to love books!

      • She is. And my son’s hunger for reading grows every day. We’ve run out of books for his personal collection and now have to rely on the public library. The thing is, he wants to own the books so that he can re-read again and again. He must have read all 50+ of his Geronimo Stilton books more than thrice over the course of this year. It’s wonderful!

    • Hi, thanks for the comment. At this stage it’s simply a free theme enabled through the wordpress.com site. Though I’m glad a coincidence or sorts has brought you over.

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