As a father, husband, pastor, blogger, adult, etc. I know I get to the end of the day, and sometimes the last thing I feel capable of is opening a book and providing non-robotic, out-loud reading. It would be easier to tuck the kids in, listen to some prayers, and retire to the couch for mindless Blue Bloods watching, a snack, and scrolling Facebook. But when I saw the impact that reading had on local school children one day, it completely changed my attitude.
I remember asking, “If reading to these kids brings them this much joy, why won’t I read to my own kids every night?”
In my family, the stories come up periodically about how my parents used to read to me each night until they were hoarse… or until my dad fell asleep mid-sentence. I don’t know if those are true or apocryphal, but I do know that every morning before breakfast, we read out of age-appropriate Bibles. I know my parents instilled in me a love of reading, a love of God, and a love of story. I know I was picked on at the bus stop and at school because I always had a book in my hand, and terms like “nerd” and “geek” were thrown around a lot.
But in the words of Trip Lee, “I think I still turned out awesome.”
Quite frankly, I want the same things for my kids. I don’t need statistics and studies to show me the impact of reading on imagination, intelligence, and communication. I can see it in the broad range of education, socioeconomics, and interaction with the diverse range of kids coming to my church. I can see it in the way that several of those kids don’t want to read – and then I find out they are borderline illiterate – or the way that others hunger for stories from the Bible and associated children stories be read out loud. [It’s also been highlighted by the twenty-plus kids who have come to our church in the last month who didn’t own a Bible. Seriously, where are the Gideons?] I can see it in the ways that adults hunger for “story,” for the reminder that they’re not alone, whether it’s through Biblical texts or cinematic narratives that point out that others struggle with the same things.
If you’re reading this today, and you don’t read to a kid (I don’t care whether it’s your offspring or not), you should. It’s someone’s kid (God’s kid if you prefer to look at it that way) and everyone deserves to have their imagination be grown and to be reminded that they’re loved.
You don’t even have to read with different voices. Just read.
Me? I’m off to read to another elementary school class. And tonight, I’ve got a date with a couple of kids and chapter four of How to Train Your Dragon.