I have always read to my children. This made much sense when they both were younger, since they had trouble reading on their own. But my oldest is eight now, and reads like a maniac. His bedroom floor is covered with books, animal encyclopedias, and magazines. I have to hide “The Economist” from him, otherwise he’d read that too. Believe me, he has tried.
Of course, reading to your child from an early age on is beneficial. It builds vocabulary, communication and reading skills, and hopefully creates a love for reading, which, in this digital age, is something I fear may get lost.
But when is the moment to stop and let them go at it alone? Despite my son’s great reading skills, I still read to him at night on a frequent basis. I don’t have to—obviously—and sometimes I wonder for how long I should continue it, but for now, I still think it’s important.
For one thing, the books I pick to read are different. These are the books that he could read, but maybe not quite fully understand. These are the books with bigger words that he can read, but does not necessarily know what they all mean. These are the books through which I can gage his emotional readiness for other books. So, reading to him offers me a great understanding of where he is at, emotionally, and cognitively, and it gives me an opportunity to explain things if needed.
But it goes beyond that. Reading to my son (or my daughter) is a wonderful way to connect with them. This is our moment of the day. The moment he does not have to vie for my attention with anyone else. The moment he gets to cuddle up with me and we share the same experience. It is a special moment of bonding we both look forward to. He will actually ask me to read to him.
This year, we have read many Roald Dahl books—because we’re both fans—and others of course, and I look forward to tackle some of the classics we haven’t covered. In my “Books I enjoyed reading” section I have highlighted a wonderful book we just finished, which we both very much enjoyed reading.
So, how long will I continue to read to my son? The answer is, I don’t know. I guess at some point he will give me the signals that he doesn’t need or want it anymore. It’s a day I know will come and I already dread. But, for now, I will keep reading to him, for as long as I can.