Friday, January 29, 2010

Developing Readers = Developing Relationships

I was going to get back to the Active Readers, but this struck me.

As a parent, one of the things at the top of our "what we want" lists is A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR KIDS.

It starts from the beginning, wanting the best for them, cuddling, cooing, and meeting their needs...but then it changes as they become more independent. They physically need you less, and they want and have emotional needs that you meet, but sometimes HOW to meet those needs and make those connections is hard.

They start giving you short answers to questions, they are off and about more, and they start creating "space" away from you.

My kids are in different stages of that right now. Take Matt - 10 - ready, but then again, not so sure, about entering teenage years. He likes to have me around -- when I am not nagging and when it's not "embarassing." Then there is Ben and Sam, still in the single digits at 7, both still needing mom -- to help, to reassure, to talk to, to learn from. And Nick, 1 almost 2, needs me in a full and complete way.

So how do I make a connection with each of them, a closeness that they can feel and remember? Well, it's not in giving them everything they want, or taking them to every event under the sun. It's sitting, listening, sharing a book.

I am not teacher. I am mom.

Matt, loves to be able to relate what he is reading to me and also to read books in tangent with me. Still.

Ben and Sam know they will get undivided attention, and it is unique to each of them -- for those moments, they are not "twins."

And Nick knows it is warm. wonderful words in his ear as he sits on my lap -- and pure enjoyment of being able to do something together.

Sometimes, issues in books prompt discussions and questions that I could never have broached with them otherwise. Bullying, friends, choices, following the crowd, racial issues...books cover the gamut and they don't feel so put on the spot. They can talk in terms of the book, but the issue is openly talked about.

Want to have a strong relationship? Of course you do. And yes, you can do all sorts of activities that connect with your kids...but there is something special about reading. Is it sitting side by side? Is it the undivided attention? Whatever the magic, it's there.

Start reading together. In those quiet, shared times, you will find them, and they, you.

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