Sometimes the thought of being my children’s first and primary teacher is a bit overwhelming…that’s a lot of pressure! These little ones are looking at me all the time, watching my every move and absorbing each thing that I do and say…good or bad. That’s why when I think about what I need to do to ensure I don’t screw this up…I think back to my own childhood and something I know really helped me: reading. I loved reading when I was a kid and my parents read to me all the time. I had my favorite book “The Big Red Barn” by Margaret Wise Brown memorized word for word as a toddler and would make sure my parents knew they messed up if they even misspoke one word. As I grew, I continued to love reading and got into new and different series. Because reading was fun for me and was ingrained from when I was quite young I learned how to read by myself easier and then just continued to read and enjoy books. Because I was a good reader, school was easier for me and I was able to graduate with honors from high school and college. I credit my parents instilling a love of books into me with a lot of my academic success.
There is a lot of research out there to support the importance of reading to a child’s future academic success. A couple of things that I’ve found that really stand out to me are that “children with access to 25 books at home will, on average, complete two more years of school than children from homes without any books at all” and “kids 4-5 years old gain six months of reading ability simply by being read to three to five times per week.” (Both of those sources can be found here).
So with my kids I’ve really focused on having lots of good, diverse books to choose from at home and trying to hold them and read with them every day. As a working dad it’s not always easy to find the time to snuggle up and read, so I’ve had to try to build the habit by doing a few different things. First of all, our house has LOTS of books. We have built up our collection for a while and often ask for books as gifts and will also buy used books for a good price at book stores and children’s resale stores. We also try to make sure to read a book or tell a story every night with our bedtime routine. This has the added benefit of calming an energetic child who may not quite think they are ready for bed. I find that some of my absolute favorite moments with my children are when we are sitting and cuddling and reading a good book.
Ready to read? Here are some of my favorite books to read with my kids:
–The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown – Of course this one is still one of my all-time favorites!
–Elephant & Piggie Series by Mo Willems – I love Elephant & Piggie…probably more than my son even does!
–Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth – A beautifully written and illustrated book and it doesn’t hurt that it has my favorite childhood animal.
–Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie – A great book for fathers and sons, especially if they share a name.
–Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown – I really like most anything by Monica Brown, but this book is phenomenal, especially for children of mixed-race backgrounds, but really for any child. I LOVE this book!
–One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck – Hilarious book, I laughed out loud the first time I read it (I was reading it by myself as an adult!)…perhaps best for older elementary-aged kids as it contains a tiny bit of potty humor.
–Bear Books Series by Karma Wilson – Really beautiful rhyming text with a great friendship-focused message
For more articles from this author, check out his blog at This is Fatherhood!