Summer 2017 was amazing in so many ways. For those of us, that love warm weather, we had a streak of near 30 degrees for almost three weeks (almost unheard of in Calgary). Our nights cooled down and that made sleeping easier. I woke up refreshed and excited by the possibilities of the day and expected to be surprised by an unimagined interaction with a child or parent at the Children’s Reading Place.
Over the last week, we have had lots of families who seemed to be running on hope, getting in the last moments of their summer break but ever so ready for school to start again. Children have slowed down and more often we found them tucked quietly in a cubbie, taking a breath and skimming through a book. Their parents found comfortable chairs and curled up, welcoming the reprieve, with a novel from the adult shelves. It is like they are getting ready for their schedules to shift from a more leisurely pace to a regimented schedule of school and activities.
Yesterday a mom asked, ” How do we keep enjoying our time reading together when everything gets hectic?” I asked why it felt hectic. ” We have dance, choir, swimming and skating starting over the next month. The three kids are going in different directions after school and in the evening 3 or 4 nights a week.” Her expression changed from tranquil to anxious just thinking about it all. As a grandfather now, I can look back at the blur that much of being a parent became. One son to band, one to hockey, one to volleyball – rinse and repeat. ” I remember those days and I wish we had added one more thing to the schedule a couple of times a week.” Mom’s eyes widened and she asked “really?” ” Yes, I wish we had scheduled some time to read together, to each other and with each other – even twice a week would have been remarkable.” I sensed that mom took my wish as a possibility for her busy crew. I don’t know if she will be able to make reading as a family a priority by adding it to the schedule but I would love to hear how it works out for anyone who does.
All summer, I have been giving adults who visit; parents and grandparents, permission to read, while in the Children’s Reading Place, at their homes, in a park, on the bus, wherever they can hold a book on their lap. For those parents who have children going back to school, take this post as permission to hold 30 minutes for yourself, after they leave or just before they return home, to read something that inspires you and brings you joy. The act of reading reduces our blood pressure, reduces stress, and energizes us for the business of life. Reading to our children does those same things with the added benefit of sharing a story and of course, cuddles.
There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.
~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis