I live by my memory. I’ve joked with friends, family and co-workers that memory is my superpower. And I cherish that ability because not only does it save paper, it allows me to look back on my life with vivid images and emotions. Most importantly, it allows me to remember what it was like to be a kid – of all ages – and to keep those who have passed alive in my heart. At the same time, memory is a funny thing. I can remember a few things from right around turning three – crazy, I know – and while they are fuzzy, they are real but do you know what I can’t remember? A time before I craved to be reading. I actually can’t remember learning to read exactly but I do remember a time that I couldn’t read but really, really wanted to. And that is all because of my family’s reading rituals. My family had an enormous impact on my reading and I’ve recently been reminded of these foggy memories for two reasons. 1. We just hosted the National Teacher of the Year and her speech was a-mazing. She shared stories with us about mimicking her parents as they read the newspaper. Her description of a tiny girl with a huge newspaper had me laughing because I was that girl. 2. Today is the anniversary of the very first comic to appear in a newspaper. The tradition that started in 1896 is alive and well. A love of comic books is something that bonds me with my brother - thank you Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes! So, how does all of this lead to an educational anecdote? Let me tell you my memories and how I never even realized they are actually learning moments, until now.
As the youngest in the family, I was constantly observing what was going on around me. Everyone else could already do all this cool stuff like tell time, close the garage door by themselves, throw a basketball high enough to reach the net, dribble the ball – simply mind-blowing I might add - and invariably, they would read every day. Even though we’ve all grown up, one thing has never changed in my house. To this day, newspapers are everywhere in the morning. Dad sits with his cup of coffee, mom with her tea and they tackle the paper. From headlines to crosswords. My brother and sister would read too but usually a chapter book for my sister and a comic book for my brother. It was true of my extended family as well. There is a time that I’m embarrassingly famous for in my family. Once we visited my grandparents and little precocious me noticed that my grandfather wasn’t in his normal chair reading. Obviously something had gone wrong so I got him the paper and pulled him over to his chair and told him that he belonged there and was supposed to be reading. No one can seem to get over that memory…anyway…
At home, I’d try to join in and read with my family. The comics were a serious draw because I recognized characters from my brother’s books. Not only were there pictures, they made my brother laugh. I’d fervently stare at the pages like my parents and then throw in a laugh every once in a while. I was reading! Well, not quite yet but I was getting there. Bless my family for knowing full well that I couldn’t read yet but not making fun of me for it. Instead, I was encouraged and handed my own part of the newspaper and someone would read aloud when they took a break from their reading. Like I said, I don’t remember the exact details of learning to read but I know that these rituals were a catalyst to get me to want to read. Everyone else was doing it!
I’m grateful to have had reading role models and that these rituals started early. The power of both is tremendous and I’m glad I know that now so that I can be sure to carry on the tradition.
What kind of reading rituals did you have growing up? Or what do you do currently with the children in your life? Tell us your best memory!