My mom is an avid reader. She probably reads at least a book a week — way more than I do, certainly. But she’s the one who instilled me with a love of the written word.
Ever since I can remember, as a kid, my mom would read to me. I remember such classics as Go Dog. Go!, The Lorax, and Are You My Mother? And she kept reading to me — Winnie the Pooh, A Wrinkle in Time, the Chronicles of Narnia, To Kill a Mockingbird, and tons of others, long after I could read for myself. Bedtime usually started with her reading to me for awhile, then I would read to myself for awhile before going to sleep.
There is absolutely no doubt that this reading helped make me who I am. I (obviously) love stories, I love books and writing and reading (even though I don’t do enough of it). But reading didn’t just get me to like books.
When you read a book, there’s so much more going on. Certainly my vocabulary expanded. I learned about all sorts of interesting things that school wouldn’t have taught me. But as the good folks over at onfiction have determined, reading also opens your mind. It simulates social situations and gives you a better understanding of how people work in the world.
In fact, though I’ve always known that reading as a child has helped me enormously — and though I’ve heard before that it helps develop mental abilities, makes kids smarter and better kids and all that jazz — studies from the people at onfiction have confirmed something more. Reading as a child helps develop one’s empathy, one’s ability to realize that other people have mental states and feelings just like you. It assists with socioemotional development. Basically, it helps children operate in a world inhabited by other people. It makes you a better person.
I could turn this into a moral crusade for the benefits of reading to your children, that all parents should do it, that everyone should read as much and as often as possible. All of that is, I think, true. But you can make that leap.
No, I’m going to end this a little more personally. Because my mom did that. She read to me constantly, and she read to me for years and years. I would not be who I am without that. So, thanks Mom, for enriching my vocabulary and my knowledge of the world, for helping develop my empathy and expanding my socioemotional awareness.
Thanks, Mom, for making me love stories.