A Reading Revolution

Readers beware! Although I touched upon this topic in my last post, today my evangelical zeal will be unleashed! Story time is one of the best blessings of books that I know of, and today I shall be quite shameless in persuading you all to try it. Come comrades! Will you not join the causeFor the past few days I’ve been suffering through a cold, but that shall not stop me! Fuelled by a pot of my favourite tea, and my passion for reading I will refrain from becoming a miserable pile of blankets on the couch (at least for a little while).
Here at The Bookaneer we’re all about how reading can make your life better, more joyful, and bring you closer to the people you love. My top way to create this is by the simple pleasure of  reading aloud to others. I grew up in a book-rich home where we not only read, but we read to each other. When I was young, books before bed was a regular ritual. Together we devoured such beloved series as All-of-a-Kind Family, Redwall, and Harry Potter. One unforgettable time, after much begging and ignoring of parental scoldings, my big sister Hermione read me “James and the Giant Peach” from start to finish. We stayed up until 3am, but it was totally worth it. Sadly, once we could all read independently story time eventually fizzled out. Occasionally we tried to share a book together, but some scoundrel (usually me) would cheat and read ahead.
Me with little Jared and Seth at the beginnings of our read-aloud journey.
With reading such a big part of my own childhood, I couldn’t wait to make it part of my own children’s.Then, I found something which made it even better: individual story time. At first, I thought it complete, and utter madness. Read to each of my children before bed?! That would take ages! I had two young boys, both under the age of two and by the end of the day I was exhausted. Why not just read a book before bundling the lot of them to bed where they belong?
Over the years our family has grown, but as I’ve learned to my peril you do not mess with personal story times! We miss some nights of course- life is busy- but when we read, we read to all four of our boys. My ultimate threat when they misbehave is to cancel their story time that night.
What’s the big deal? Jared and Seth have been happily reading on their own for years, while Jack proudly can read on his own now too, yet on nights we do story time there is much fist pumping and celebratory leaps from the furniture. Ultimately, we do this because makes us happy. Amidst our usual hustle and bustle, personal story times gives me a moment- even just a few minutes- with each of my children. We get to reconnect, talk, laugh and even cry over a story. The book we read is picked according to their tastes, not the attention span of a little brother’s. They are reminded that they matter, that they are loved. Personal story time is one of the best things I’ve ever done as a mother.
Why not give it a whirl yourself? Join the reading revolution! Whether you have kids, or even just someone else you want to feel closer to, this is a beautiful and simple way to do it. Don’t know where to start? Never fear! After more than a decade of personal story times we have discovered some sure-fire hits! Here’s some of our very favourites.
Board Books
1. “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis
OK, this was not originally a board book, but it’s so wonderful to have a copy that stood up to my babies’ and toddler’s enthusiasm! A grown-up may just see a simple box, but this book’s bunny (and every kid) knows better.
2. “Hug” by Jez Alborough
The only thing keeping our copy of this little gem together is duct tape- about the highest praise a book can get. One little gorilla just wants a hug, but his quest to get one still tugs at my heart strings.
3. “Good Night Gorilla”
The best bedtime book we have ever found! The zookeeper might be closing up shop, but with the pilfered keys to every cage, this gorilla has his own plans for going to bed! Simple, beautiful and pure reading awesomeness that still leaves my kids giggling.
Picture Books
1. “Knuffle Bunny” by Mo Willems
Now here’s a tale we can all relate to! Calamity strikes when Trixie loses her beloved toy, but how exactly is she going to let Daddy know, let alone get Knuffle Bunny back? Tremendous fun.
2. “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” by Philip and Erin Stead
Meet Amos McGee: zookeeper extraordinaire! He plays chess with the elephant, lets the tortoise win foot races and more. When he comes down with a cold, he’s in for some company from all of his zoo friends. A real treasure of a book.
3.  “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat
On the magical island where imaginary friends are born, after waiting patiently to be chosen by a real child, Beekle takes matters into his own adorable hands. His quest is still fantastic after rereading it too many times to count.
Yikes! This blog is already far longer than I ‘d planned! Perhaps it is now time to go and nurse this cold into oblivion.  More will follow, hopefully with me hale and hearty again. Until then, these titles can help you get story times started- especially for tomorrow. Family Literacy Day is almost here!
Happy Reading to you all.

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