A little girl tries to climb into her father’s lap as he sits reading in his favorite chair. It’s a big, overstuffed chair with a wide seat, high back, and cushy arms. He pretends to ignore her as she makes the attempt first on one side, then on the other. On many past occasions she has made the climb without hesitation or difficulty, but this day her attempts are thwarted by the book she holds in her hands. Unwilling to let go, and after several attempts, she looks up with pleading eyes.
No longer able to keep up his pretense, he sets his book aside, reaches down and lifts her easily, placing her comfortably on his lap. He takes the book from her hands and examines the cover. Is it an old favorite, read a hundred times? Or something new, as yet unexplored? It matters little, for the importance is in the experience. A bond forms between them, a bond of shared learning, shared exploration, and shared adventure. The kind of bond that lasts a lifetime. He opens the book and begins the adventure. The two of them gaze intently at the open book, the room around them soon lost to the world contained within the pages.
And yet, not contained. For while each page may contain a static picture and a few sentences, the picture is but a skin, and the words, bone. It is the sights unseen and the words unsaid that are the real meat of the story. The mind fills in the details, enriching the experience, bringing the story to life in ways sometimes unforeseen by an author and illustrator. This is the real magic of reading to a child. You’re not just spending time, you’re sharing an experience and awakening their imagination.
So, read to your children, and awaken their imagination.