What are you reading? I was asked this question recently during a party and responded, “Last night, I read The Big Red Barn and the night before, it was Corduroy.” Other than newspapers and the occasional magazine article, I only read “board books” these days. Since my son, Bennett, was born 11 months ago, I can’t remember the last book intended for grownups that I’ve actually finished, unless you count Goodnight Nanny-Cam, a parody of Goodnight Moon.
Numerous studies have documented the value of reading to children and my favorite activity with Bennett – after stacking up blocks for him to knock down, which he never tires of doing – is narrating a story before bedtime. Bennett likes storytime because, right now, he’s fascinated with the tactile quality of books. He likes to turn, bend, and sometimes chew on the pages. I cherish storytime because it provides me with the chance to hold my son as we learn about the world together.
At CMEE, parents tell me that their children love to play in the same exhibits every time they visit the Museum. I have now devised a theory of where this penchant for repetitive behavior originates. If, over and over again, I select the same stories like Giraffes Can’t Dance or You are My I Love You (which I’ve read at least 30 times) to read to my infant son, should I be surprised in the future when, as a toddler, he wants to dress up as a firefighter every time he plays at CMEE?
I’m very lucky that CMEE’s Board of Trustees and other friends generously gave Bennett many books for his library before he was born. But, what about parents who aren’t fortunate to have books for their children or who don’t have a custom of reading to them? To promote family literacy, CMEE created its Tuesday morning program, “Cantemos” to encourage reading behaviors, especially among Spanish-speaking families. As part of the program, families receive a book every week. My favorite is Quiero Un Beso (“I Want A Kiss”). Unfortunately, when I read it to Bennett, he hasn’t obliged me just quite yet.
I hope you’ll join us for one of the many opportunities for storytime at CMEE. This Friday, we’ll have a reading of a classic Dr. Seuss tale during “Pizza and Pajama Night.” If you have a book to suggest for a CMEE program or just want to share something that you love reading to your own children, share it with us on the Museum’s Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.