I have always read picture books to my children and love story time. We will gather a pile of books, sit together in a heap on the couch and read for as long as an hour. It gives us the chance to decompress, to quiet our thoughts, to still our bodies. The required closeness answers our need for physical touch, for intimacy with family. It is the definition of unity, all of us laughing at the same picture, counting kittens for the benefit of the one learning to count, kissing the illustration of the hurt child as we learn compassion, and smelling the flowers on the page to help our imaginations grow. Traditions have evolved such as the singing of the ABC's after each reading of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and certain accents have to be used for certain characters. My oldest pods have been reading independently for three years, but if they hear me reading aloud, they hurry in to take their assumed place in the pile-up. We practice patience as we read I'll Love You Forever, again. The boy kindly listens to Fancy Nancy because he knows that the next book is Nate the Great.
Nearly five years ago, I expanded our reading time. One night, as I tucked in my 5 and 3 year old, I cracked the spine of a treasure: Charlotte's Web. Ever since that night, I have been reading "chapter books" aloud at bedtime. We have read dozens of books together including The Little House on the Prairie, The Lion, he Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Island of the Blue Dolphin, and Where the Red Fern Grows. In Inkheart, author Cornelia Funke reminds us that books have great memories. Whenever we read one, we are taken back to the first time we read those pages.
My children are going to remember bits and pieces of even their earliest years of childhood. As a mother, I make a lot of mistakes. I hope that they'll remember the best parts of growing up. I don't know that there could be a better reminder of happy times than when they curl up with a book that we read together all those years before.
By the way, my younger set of pods are now 5 and 3 years old and we've just started Charlotte's Web.