Just the other day I had a young mother visit the library and say, “There are so many picture books! It’s pretty overwhelming to know which one my daughter will love.” When I probed a little further, I discovered that she wanted to find the one book her daughter would remember reading when she was older. Unfortunately, I can easily say that’s probably not something Moms can control.
|Child and READ Dog Katie|
This mother wasn’t in the wrong; she made the same mistake as many other young parents who think that every book is a gem waiting to be polished by the love of a parent’s lap and the gentle sound of a parent’s voice. I almost hate bursting this bubble, but that just ain’t the way it happens. After decades of working with children and books, let me tell you that the book you think your child will remember tenderly is almost certainly not going to be the one they mention when someone asks “What was your first favorite book?” when they are in their teens. In fact, in most cases, it won’t even be one you remember reading.
|Franklin and Friend with Picture Books|
What can a young parent do to create those warm fuzzies around books? The answer is simple: read, and then, read some more. Read until you are blue in the face and dreaming about The Poky Little Puppy while you sleep. Your child will thank you for this. Why? Because, the children who do best, the ones who learn to love reading, and the ones who take to it much more easily than others, are the ones who have had thousands of books in their life BEFORE they even start school. And, when I say thousands, please note, that wasn’t a typo. I mean THOUSANDS. And, while it’s nice for your child to have their own little library and learn how to take care of their books, unless you are a millionaire, thousands of books just aren’t in the budget of many young families. Hint: This is why we have a humongous checkout limit of 20 books per card.
|The perfect book?|
So, to make our world a better place, we want children to read lots and lots of books. Some families visit the library daily, others weekly and still others come every three weeks when their books are due. Many of these families check out their limit and laugh about how fast their children plow through the titles. Throughout the years, the one thing I’ve noticed most is that the children of these families often become very good readers and have learned to love books almost by osmosis. Feel free to look for that perfect book, but don’t make it your biggest goal. After all, when I would have pegged The Poky Little Puppy — a book I still remember every single doggone syllable of to this day — as my son’s favorite childhood read, it didn’t even make his top ten. Sigh.
–Dawn Heisel, Public Services Librarian