105 Ways to Give a Book

I Am a Mother Reader

I originally wrote this for ForeWord, but as they are dropping their old blog posts I’m copying it here. I’d like to hold onto it anyway — but I’m inspired to put it up today to make sure that it can be part of the National Gallery of Writing, organized by the ladies of A Year of Reading.

At the time I was a guest blogger — I had written two posts as a reviewer and two posts as a librarian. But I hadn’t addressed the roles nearest and dearest to my heart, the duo of roles that inspires my blog title. I am a Mother and I am a Reader.



Here’s one of my favorite MotherReader stories: When my oldest daughter was five, she asked me to play house. “I’ll be the mommy and you’ll be the little girl,” she said. I agreed and prepared myself for my role. Meanwhile, she sat down on the couch, opened a book to read and, looking over the top, said, “Go play with your sister.”

Never have I felt so much angst and pride at the same time. Of course, my mother guilt kicked in. Did she think that all I did was read? Did she feel so neglected? What kind of mom was I? But at the same time, I felt proud of the lesson she had picked up from me — namely that Moms read, and reading’s important.

As a mother of two (now) school-aged girls, I get asked occasionally how I find time to read. I can only pat the questioner on the head with an air of pity (well, mentally), and answer that one doesn’t find time to read, one makes time to read. Looking at reading as something that’s done when everything else is finished means that you’ll never even crack open a People magazine. (Not that I read this particular journal, understand.) And this goes double, maybe triple for mothers. Every minute I read, I’ve carved that time away from something else. Sometimes I don’t put the laundry away. Sometimes I don’t shower, but I make the time to read.

While I’m taking time for myself in a self-care, Oprah kind of way, I’m also conveying an important message to my kids. Moms read books for fun. I couldn’t talk to them about reading being important and then never open a book myself. My actions speak louder than my words ever could, and believe me, I can make my words LOUD.

I’ve also been asked by parents that with today’s busy lifestyle, how can I find time for my kids to read? For this question, I allow a quick wide-eyed expression of shock so the questioner realizes the very seriousness of the inquiry. For me, it’s as if they’ve asked how I find time for my children to eat dinner. In my family, reading is a necessary and vital part of our day. We formed the habit early, and rarely break it.

Since my daughters were babies, the last part of every evening has been given over to reading. When the girls were younger, my husband or I read to them. Then each child went through a stage where we would alternate fun picture books with the beginning-reader series of the month. Now sometimes we read a book to them — a great picture book or chapters from a harder book — and sometimes we all read our own books. Often one daughter and I will recline on the couch, each leaning against the opposite side arms, our legs sharing the space in the middle. It’s comfy. It’s fun. The dishes can wait.

Want to raise a reader? Then read. Read to them, read with them, read beside them. Take it from a MotherReader.

17 comments:

ReadingTub said...

I know you've shared that story before, but I love it every time I read it. Hey! Just like a good book. Thanks, Mother Reader.

tanita davis said...

Oh, ouch! But how funny! I feel sorry for my poor mother, looking back at how many times she was interrupted. Her favorite thing to do now is rent a cabin at Tahoe for a weekend and ignore us all -- and read all weekend. She only does it about once a year, but we've gotten to where we give her that as a gift. "Wanna come to a cabin with us, Mom?" We know we're just to feed her and leave her alone.

Someday, your kids will do that for you. It's payback.

Tina's Blog said...

Amen. I'm always amazed by parents who wonder why their kids don't like reading, when they never open a book to show them how wonderful it is to read for pleasure.

Colleen said...

I love this post and I'm so glad you included it here. You're so awesome.

Melissa said...

As a mother of two (now) school-aged girls, I get asked occasionally how I find time to read. I can only pat the questioner on the head with an air of pity (well, mentally), and answer that one doesn’t find time to read, one makes time to read.

AMEN! I wished more mothers who say, "Oh, I wish I had time to read." would understand that.

vanessa said...

I love it. I feel like I've gotten a little glimpse into my future--one day, my daughter and I will each be reading our own books together on the couch. It's beautiful. Thanks for sharing that.

millymarie said...

This is my first time reading this post and I have to say very lovely. Especially, "one makes time to read." And of course the part about reading with your children etc.

Jaymie said...

This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing it!

Pat from Ohio said...

I want Mother Reader to adopt me, even tho I am 48 years old. Sigh. I love the image of Mother and her daughter reading together in a chair. Great post!
I was sent a link about about a woman who is reading a book every day this year. Here is the linkhttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/nyregion/12towns.html?_r=1&emc=eta1:

lgburns said...

From one mother reader to THE Mother Reader ... you rock! Thanks for re-posting this for those of us who missed it the first time 'round.

Joan Holub said...

Ha! I love that you have a stare prepared for such comments, Pam. I have wonderful memories of my mom reading to my brother and me when I was young. We didn't have many children's books, but we hit the library regularly. I still remember the layout of the children's section in that first library. And that was a looong time ago.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

You speak my language.

Bonny Becker said...

Ha! I love the "now go play with your sister" line. My mother had six children and my most indelible image of her is her reading in her corner on the couch, glasses perched on her nose, feet tucked under her. Content and someplace far away from the crowd.

Pam said...

From breast to books... I weaned my two boys from the night time feeding by creating a ritual of bath, books then bed. Great way to end the day. Worked like a charm (for all of us!)!

O'LEARY said...

Hey, a kindred spirit!
http://maritadachsel.blogspot.com/2009/06/interview-sara-oleary.html

Lee Wind said...

gosh I love this essay! And you're so right about MAKING the time, not finding the time!
read on!
Namaste,
Lee

sue-c said...

I'm telling my boss you made a crack about People magazine, sistah.