I always loved reading to my children. Even when they were tiny board books, those annoying squeaky-soft books were a daily part of life. I cherished the time we could cuddle up and read, and I valued the moments I could take a rest from my mock-speed day. As my children grew, so did their library. We'd scarf up books at garage sales and libraries and request them as gifts.
When my children were in first and third grade, we decided to read the "Little House on the Prairie" series together. I had no idea how important that would be for our family and our future.
"Yuck! Play ball with a pig's bladder? That's disgusting!" my son, Sean, said as we read Little House on the Prairie.
"I did as a little girl," Nana said hesitantly. She was visiting with us and had joined our reading time.
Seeing the golden moment, I ran to get my tape recorder. Nana then told her grandchildren about growing up on a farm during and after the Great Depression and about using a pig's bladder for a ball. The children were enthralled.
Every night for the next 10 days, they'd cuddle up with my mom to tape the stories she told. Those stories not only bonded my children to their grandmother but to history itself. She connected us to history, to family and to love. She brought the war, rationing, jitterbugging and Walton-type Christmases to life. She helped us understand her, the world and her faith better.
After she left, we continued reading the series. For the children's school History/Science Fair, we built a Little House on the Prairie dollhouse from the descriptions in the book. What a great way to learn about the pioneer days.
What was even more valuable than the enjoyment of that series was that my children learned to value and love reading, and they developed an interest in history.
Over the years they read more of the classics and talked to their grandparents about them. It was a special bond they shared.
Reading is a multi-faceted experience that can bond generations together. It can also expand a child's world in life-changing ways.