Reading has always been one of my favorite activities; since my childhood obsession with books. Little Golden Books, Dr. Seuss and Highlights Magazine lined book shelves in our house. Trips to the library and book stores were welcome treats. When I got my first library card, I felt like such a big kid. Being read to by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, librarians and teachers was a true delight. Hours spent in doctors’ waiting rooms as the result of asthma were far more pleasant when immersed in that activity. My parents would start out reading the words and then point to one and ask what it was and I would take over from there. The phrase “sound it out,” became my mother’s mantra when I would struggle with one. She would send me to the dictionary if I didn’t know how to spell something. My wise guy answer was sometimes ” If I don’t know how to spell it, how can I do that?” and then I would sigh and look it up. I actually took three years of Latin in Jr. and Sr. High School so I could become more adept with the English language, little knowing at the time that I would become an author/journalist.
These days, I am more often the one doing the reading to. One listener is my son’s girlfriend’s two year old son, Collin who seems to have an affinity for books too. The other day, he piled a whole bunch of them in an empty basket and attempted to haul them around the living room and then took some out and paged through them. He had read some sounds to me in one of his little books and smiled with glee afterward, so proud of himself. A few days ago, my friend Jewelee’s kindergartner daughter Vanessa was curled up next to me on the couch as we read The Lorax. She started on the first page, sounding out a few lines and then asked me to take over, as we entered the world of the Oncler, the truffula trees, the brown barbaloots and the title character who “speaks for the trees.” I did my best to come up with voices for the various characters and she smiled at my efforts.
Today, I saw a Facebook pic of my friend Marly reading to her grandson Jeremiah. Such a beautiful multi-generational image it portrayed. Children are like little sponges who soak up everything around them. Since that is the case, how about if we make sure they are immersed in nourishing waters that sustain them, rather than the video game chatter that sometimes numbs the mind and stifles creativity? Yesterday, while sprawled on the carpet of their great grandmother’s Northeast Philly rowhome, Vanessa, her older sister (second grader) Sabrina and I were coloring pictures of butterflies, a unicorn and a hula dancing bear; talking about visiting Hawaii. We were all so engrossed with the activity that the time just flew. These are girls who are also gymnasts and dancers. Their infectious giggles filled the room. The unicorn (personally autographed by the artiste’ Sabrina) is now decorating my fridge. Singing together is also a fun way of connecting to a child’s world. Silly songs are my favorite. When I was growing up my parents would sing the nonsense songs with the lyrics “Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy diveyA kiddley divey too, wooden shoe?”
THREE LITTLE FISIHES (Fwee Widdo Fiddies) (Saxie Dowell © 1939)
Down in the meadow in a little bitty pool Swam three little fishies and the mama fishy, too.? “Swim!” said the mama fishie, “Swim if you can!” ? And they swam and they swam right over the dam.
chorus: Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, shoo ? Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, shoo ?Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, shoo ? And they swam and they swam all over the dam.
“Stop!” said the mama fishy, “You’ll get lost!” But the three little fishies didn’t want to be bossed, ? So the three little fishies went out on a spree ? And they swam and they swam right out to the sea.
“Whee!” said the little fishies, “This is fun! ? Let’s swim in the sea ’til the day is done!” ? So they swam and they swam, and it was a lark. ? Then, all of a sudden, they saw a shark.
“Help!”cried the little fishies, “Look at all the whales!”? And the three little fishies, they turned on their tails, And back to the pool in the meadow they swam ? And they swam and swam back over the dam.
Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, shoo ? Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, shoo ?Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, shoo ? And they swam and they swam back over the dam.
http://youtu.be/Z6Go0O57SRM Three Little Fishies
How could you be a mentor for a child, encouraging him or her to learn all the good stuff there is in the world? How can you re-establish that sense of child-like wonder in case you feel you have lost it? It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
http://youtu.be/WaddbqEQ1NE Fill Your Bucket by The Learning Station