Does my child read too much?
Cath Jenkin has the best problem a parent could ask for - her child loves to read.
In the midst of the maelstrom of year-end, we moved house. Please feel free to laugh at us, because we not only moved house, we changed schools and we, as a family, committed to a whole bunch of new habits. You could call them resolutions but they’re not really – we’d decided on them many months before the ball dropped in Times Square.
One of the primary attractions that led us towards our new abode was its convenient location. For me, the shops are close by, which is great when we run out of milk on a Sunday morning. For my kid though, the convenient location meant something else entirely.
The local library is so close to our house that we can see it from our front door. This idea excited her no end, as she’s a bookworm – a big one. It wasn’t too long ago that she eschewed the creature comfort of having a television in her bedroom, and asked us to remove it, so she could have more space for books. We did, and stuck another bookshelf in, just for her.
Once we’d moved house, and before the last boxes were unpacked, we were signing up at the library. The excitement in her face as I told her she’d be able to take out seven books, every two weeks... Well, I’ll explain.
The local library
From the moment we walked into the air-conditioned cool space, I watched my kid’s eyes sparkle. I’ve seen them sparkle many a time, as she’s walked through the toy store and spied a ‘princess castle’ that’s possibly bigger than our front porch. Her eyes have sparkled over a shiny new bike, and I watched them twinkle that familiar shine at me when she unwrapped her Christmas presents over the years. But this sparkle was entirely something else.
It doesn't matter that we have a burgeoning bookshelf and a digital library of books. It does not matter that she’s read or been read to, almost every day of her life. As she stood there, soaking up that all too familiar smell of books and with her face reflected in the shiny counter, I saw something in her face that I’d not seen before.
It was the sparkle of possibility.
When the kind librarian told her that she could take out seven books every two weeks, she stared at her, almost too excited to speak. And then, when I ushered her into the kids section of the library (which is exactly half of the library – we chose a good place to live!), I’ll never forget the expression on her face. She was joyful in a way that couldn't be contained.
And as we picked out our books, examined their back covers, giggled to each other over an author’s funny-sounding surname, she looked like a kid on Christmas morning.
It’s been a few weeks now since our first trip to the library and the enthusiasm level is yet to falter. She sees the seven-book rule as a challenge, and more of a target, rather than a limit. She’s happily pounced upon book after book, and tucked in to books that she was given as gifts. So far, she’s ploughed through twenty books during the holidays. I've been left wondering if perhaps I should insist upon her having a “book-free” day because, just about every time I looked at her during the holidays, she was nose-deep into a page. I realise this is really the best problem to have – we all want a child who reads. But, seriously, she needs to have sunshine too!
Perhaps the best part of this experience was her realizing that, this was all free. Every book she reads, and every time we take a turn in at the library, it doesn't cost her or me a cent. It’s pure entertainment, but with no cost attached (so long as I don’t forget to return the books in time!)
So, parents, join your local library. Not because I said so or because you've run out of things to do. But do it so you can see that sparkle in your kid’s eye when they walk in and realise that all the possibilities that lie within the pages of what looks like a million books are theirs for the taking.
Do your children love to read? What are their favourite books?