In a matter of days, my daughter will have finished the first grade. She has, by all accounts, done exceptionally well this past year, testing at two grades above her age. To say I’m proud is too quaint of an expression for how I feel.
This is, no doubt, partly due to her wonderful teacher, but her teaching my daughter isn’t the only reason she impressed me. During an early parent-teacher conference, I asked if there was anything I could do to help with the class. In my mind, any way I could help her out and see my daughter more in class was a win-win to me. She set up time for me to come read to the class regularly at the end of the day, and I then had an assignment I could really sink my teeth into.
You see, when I read to my daughter, it can best be described by a scene from Mrs. Doubtfire:
“I do voices.”
“What do you mean you do voices?”
I can’t just read what’s on the page, even when reading privately. I have to give each character a unique sound and mannerism. I knew my daughter liked it, but would the other kids? I have to admit: that first time before reading to them, I got more than slightly nervous. Still, I read ‘FROGGY GOES TO SCHOOL’, and the kids loved it. They even wanted me back, so I’ve kept coming.
Since then, I’ve read Dr. Seuss of all sorts, as well as books about trucks, how mail works, and even some Magic School Bus. It’s been an amazing school year to be sure, and the only downside is that it will end soon. My daughter will be headed to second grade, and while the teacher there may very well let me do this all again then, I realize that before long, it won’t be cool for Daddy to read to everybody.
I write this to challenge you all: you may not have the opportunity given to read to a class; I didn’t think I would either. Still, most of us have children in our lives that would greatly benefit from a little one-on-one reading time. Do the voices or don’t, but give them the time and attention they need. Turn your phone off, and grab a book with real pages that turn. Show kids that stories are fun; they may have difficulty sounding words out, but help them through it. Not only are you making their day better, you’re making their life better. I believe children who enjoy reading seek out knowledge, ponder more, question things that seem wrong, and seek to make things right as adults. Those that read early and consistently go on to write things, try new things, and make new things. Reading unlocks ingenuity in the mind of a child, and this country and world could use more of that.
Please share in the comment section experiences you’ve had reading to others or when others read to you and the changes it made.