In a busy world filled with screens, reading to my kids is a daily ritual I prioritize and cherish. Our nightly reading time takes center stage for many reasons, but mainly because it is our special time together—no interruptions, no work, no sibling quibbles. Just the magic of being immersed in a good story.
Reading is one of my earliest memories of childhood and my own parenting career thus far. As new parents, my husband and I read countless studies on the benefits of reading aloud to babies. So we started reading to our children even when they were tiny infants.
Initially our motivation for our daily read-aloud to our pint-sized (mostly sleeping) babies—and later, squirmy toddlers—was centered around building their vocabularies and fostering their curiosity about the world around them. But as the years passed, reading with our girls became so much more.
Reading is our daily escape to a magical world—together. It’s an opportunity for snuggles and meaningful, deep (sometimes spirited) discussions. It is our chance to see the world from their perspective, but also to impart a bit of worldly knowledge to them in a safe environment.
Though the nights of those early childhood reading sessions blur together (we questioned how many times we could read Moo Baa La La or Brown Bear, Brown Bear “just one more time” without going insane…), nine years later, the magic that is our daily reading time remains. It provides comfort to us all.
We collectively reflect on our busy days as we snuggle in bed to be reunited with our favorite characters. Our kids may have graduated from the likes of Eric Carle’s iconic board books, but their voracious appetite for reading remains. We often hear “just one more book” and also catch my older daughter under the covers with a flashlight on a regular basis. Though we don’t always give in, I secretly *love* the additional story requests and even the sneaking books under the covers. (But shh, don’t tell my oldest—she’d never go to sleep!)
Speaking of my firstborn, as I’m writing this, she is reading the fifth book in the Harry Potter series. Harry and his friends have played a large part in our lives these past months. What my daughter does not realize, however, is that I use the Hogwarts crew for IRL teachable moments.
I eagerly jump on the opportunity to talk about friendships, bullying, courage and loyalty while weaving in examples from my daughter’s experiences. She opens up about her day in a whole different way than at our dinner table.
The power of books and my family’s love of reading has impacted our lives in other meaningful ways, too. Perhaps most important, books expand our view of the world. After reading I Dissent about Ruth Bader Ginsburg with my first grader and discussing the obstacles the respected Supreme Court judge, and women, in general, have faced (and are still facing), I got a note from her teacher the next day.
Unbeknownst to me, my youngest brought the book to class and gave an impassioned speech to her classmates about the importance of women’s rights. My husband and I shed a few happy tears reading the teacher’s email detailing our little activist’s spontaneous urge to teach her classmates about right and wrong. I’m not going to lie. My heart nearly exploded I was so happy. I delighted in this proud parenting moment.
Brava, my fierce and fearless little girl! And thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for inspiring a beautiful book and for giving little girls like my 6-year-old a voice.
I know the day will come when my girls turn into sullen teenagers who will not want to read aloud with us anymore. I will mourn that day but take comfort in knowing that as parents, we prepared our girls to always find joy in reading. The magic of books will take them on many adventures—with or without us reading them together.
So mama, find the books your kiddos love and read aloud (even if it has to be the same book a dozen times back-to-back). I promise you; it’s worth *every minute.*