Pertson looing in a book at public library

 Our Story Begins:
The Wonder Of Words…
Why I STILL Read To My Kids

A few months before my oldest daughter left for college she gave me one of the greatest compliments of my life.

The compliment came in a conversation about kids books and whether kids enjoyed their parents reading to them at night. A DJ on the radio had proclaimed that, even though he could do brilliant impersonations of the most random movie stars, his kid hated when he read using those voices.

“That’s ridiculous,” my daughter said aloud.
”Daddy reads to us and does voices all the time,” one of my sons said.
“That’s right,” proclaimed Abbi,my oldest daughter. “I used to ask him to read the book Drummer Hoff to me all the time because I loved his voices. He had a different voice for every character!”

Drummer Hoff

I did, too. From Drummer Hoff to Private Parriage to Major Scott and General Border…every single one had a different accent or voice to go with it.

“I used to ask Dad to read to me even though I was way too old for the book,” my daughter proclaimed.

That was the compliment.

Related Post:  Our Story Begins: My Kid Moves Out and We Move On

I grew up in a household filled with books; what we didn’t have, we borrowed from the library. When I found a topic or a book that had something that piqued my interest . . . my mother would take me to the library and the library would help us hunt down the information. Sometimes it was in an encyclopedia, others in a search of weekly periodicals that brought a scientific or literary magazine to my waiting hands.

To this day . . . I read. My two sons are in the middle of my reading Douglas Adams’ A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Even though we’re well beyond the point of the movie from a few years ago, I still do my best Stephen Fry as the Guide…Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent . . . and even Alan Rickman as Marvin the depressed robot.

My point here is to mirror a lecture by the author Neil Gaiman that’s been making the social media and blogging rounds this week.

“Fiction,” says the author of Coraline and Fortunately, the Milk, is “a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end…”

Gaiman extols the virtue of daydreaming.  He points out, and I’m going to mirror this here . . . if you look in the room you’re in, right now…everything, from the walls themselves to the artwork to that wonder of technology you’re reading this very post on, is the result of someone’s imagination.  Someone, somewhere, decided sitting on the floor was too hard and thought up the chair.

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The key to making those imaginative leaps starts with us, the parents of the next generations.  If you’re more obsessed with getting your kids into whatever new school or the grades they receive or . . . worse . . . do their homework for them and try to dictate what they read because it’s “smarter” . . . you’re damaging more than their egos.  You’re telling them reading is only good if it’s what you see.  When’s the last time you took your kids to the library?  When’s the last time you took them . . . but it wasn’t for the shelf of books?

I still read to my kids.  We visit the greatest resource for history, information and knowledge…our local library.

And every night I read to my sons . . . and every Christmas Eve . . . all five of us sit as I put on my best Boris Karloff . . . and read: “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot…”  I dare you not to finish the lines after.  See?  Your imagination’s already running wild!

What about you?  Do you read aloud?  Do you visit the library?  What are your favorites to share with your kids and why?

Dave Manoucheri

Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.