Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

I bought the print I found with that saying for the twins’ room and for my friend Shannon’s classroom. I love it and I believe it wholeheartedly. I started reading on my own when I was three-and-a-half (Justin teases me about my pride in this fact — two days ago when I mentioned it he told me he read at two-and-a-half and people, we almost got divorced it made me so mad) and was accelerated in English and reading all through school.

[Mom thinks Sesame Street taught me to read. This worries me because the babies never watch Sesame Street on account of Emme’s weird reaction to the Count — and we never know when he’s going to be on and woe betide all of us if he comes on when we’re out of the room. She screams as though she’s been shot. She’s also become afraid of that elephant who shows up periodically. And I can’t blame her; that thing is CREEPY. The other day, both the elephant and the Count were in the same sketch! It was like her worst nightmare come to life. I couldn’t hit the fast forward button quickly enough. So, instead, for their (very, but probably should be even more) limited TV viewing time, they’ve been on an exclusive Curious George diet, which Emme absolutely adores. But here’s the thing: Curious George teaches children everything you really, really, don’t want them to learn. Like, don’t bother learning a language, because everyone around you can understand your grunts and squeals. And, it doesn’t matter how bad of a situation you get yourself in through your own inane actions, you will always have a happy ending. And, if you’re cute, no one ever gets mad at you. And, it’s possible to get an apartment with that much square footage in Manhattan even if you’re NOT Donald Trump.]

We try to read at least a book a day to the babies. A book a day sounds so paltry and yet it seems so hard to do sometimes. They used to love being read to but lately have begun abruptly getting up and leaving after two pages or trying to shut the book after you’re only halfway through. Which can be pretty insulting, as it’s almost like they’re saying that your reading is just too, too boring for them to continue. (Oh, just give up, Mommy. You’ll never make it to Broadway with that poor interpretation of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See.) It makes Justin furious. I think he takes it personally. Usually I’m so tired when I start the book that I’m relieved at the early pardon.

Grandma LOVES to read to them, so we took full advantage while she was here. I had made a trip to the library, my first with the babies, the day before she came. Mom used to take us at least weekly to the library and I still remember that feeling of coming home with a big stack of books under my arm. (I can also see my mom on her hands and knees, looking under couches and beds in an attempt to round up the books prior to returning them to the library.)

Jack is our most receptive audience member when it comes to reading — can you tell? Although Emme is getting better about it — she just always has to be up and moving around.

There’s a ton of research about why reading books out loud is good for children — this is a particularly good resource for finding out how valuable it is to read out loud to your children — but for me, it’s all about my personal experiences as a child. I can remember my mom reading to us and how I loved that time. And once I could read, books became such a part of my everyday life that I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without them. I hope the research is right, and love of reading is something you can instill and foster in a child. I hope there are many visits to the library in our future.

Janie Hightower - April 16, 2012 - 8:03 am

This shows Jack at his most adorable. He’s so delighted with that page we’re reading, and at the end, he leans over and kisses whatever we’re reading about!

Marsha - April 16, 2012 - 12:05 pm

My son, Ali, also learned to read at about 3-4 years old…and the Richard Scarry Best Word Book Ever was where it turns out he learned a lot of words! When I realized he could read I asked him where he learned some word and he referred to that book. Otherwise he picked up words from all sorts of random places. It’s so amazing to try to dissect the learning process!

Lara Jo - April 17, 2012 - 6:56 pm

Isn’t that book AWESOME? I found it at an estate sale. Nice to hear it’s got a good, solid track record!

Justin - April 16, 2012 - 1:56 pm

It’s not really the implied critique of my performance that drives me crazy — though would a little applause kill them? — it’s that one of them always decides to play the contrarian. If Jack is really getting into the story, Emme will try to close the back cover. And if Emme is digging a tale, Jack will try to yank the book from my hands and walk away with it. Trying to read to both of them is an exercise in futility. But the only other option is to read to one of them at a time, while the other looks at you, crestfallen and betrayed. What kind of jerk Dad does that?

Shannon - April 17, 2012 - 11:48 am

I LOVE the print, although, I love those pictures of Jack and Grandma even more!

Richard Ragsdale - April 17, 2012 - 3:49 pm

Man, I wonder if they make that Charlie Brown shirt in my size…