The Joy of Reading


To everyone else, it's Suze Orman's Nine Steps to Financial Freedom. But, to my two-year old, it's "The Barbie Book." The author's smiling photograph on the book's cover has inspired the affectionate name as well as my toddler's devotion to a book heavy enough to hurt her toes when she drops it. 

One day, I asked her to share it with me. She opened to a random page and began to read aloud: "Barbies and Barbies and Barbies and Barbies." 

Ah. My child loves to read…way before she can, which comes as a relief to this mother whose love affair with words has been lifelong. My bachelorette party was an all-night book club meeting. My bills and letters usually arrive wrinkled, crammed into my post office box among issues of everything from Parents to Wired to National Geographic. I could care less about shoes and accessories, but I can't pass up a sale on books, and amazon.com loves me.

When new books arrive, I am struck with anticipation, as though the words on these crisp pages will somehow change the trajectory of my life. Many times, in subtle ways, they do. Each time a package arrives, I wait until I'm all alone to savor its unveiling…the creak of a new book's binding, the whisper of its pages, the clean scent of fresh paper. 

The only thing better than a new book is a really old book. There's something about the yellowed, fragile pages that conjure images of giant echoing libraries smelling of floor wax, Murphy's Oil Soap, and grandmother's attic. 

Old books command a hushed reverence, the type found deep, way deep, in a library. And when we demonstrate such a reverence for books, we model this special joy for our children. Kids derive more from books than concepts and letter- and word-recognition. They gain ideas and values and special time together with you. Few things are cozier than snuggling under a blanket to share a book with your little ones. 

Even infants benefit from the experience. Studies show that reading aloud to babies promotes brain growth and that the experiences young children have with books will inform their success in learning to read as well as their interest in books for the rest of their lives. 

Foster the love of books in your children by scheduling regular tips to the local library. Drop in during "storytime." Subscribe to kids' magazines appropriate for your child's age group, such as Sports Illustrated for Kids, Time for Kids, or Kids' Wall Street News (more information and 90-day risk-free trials on these and other kids' publications available on our Freebies for Kids page).   Model your enthusiasm for the written word by reading magazines and books at home. 

To help you do just that, Momscape is launching a new section, all about books. We'll feature reviews on Family & Parenting titles, as well as books that entertain, inspire, and educate us in all of our roles. And we're always looking for the next fiction title that will make us stay awake all night. 

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions, as well as your reviews. We'll feature a special section where you tell us what to read next!