The Joys of Reading


One of the earliest arguments that I can remember having with my parents was over a play date. A new family had moved into town, our community small enough at that time for this to be noteworthy, and after meeting the new family at the general store, ( yes, I grew up in Mayberry ) my mother had offered an invitation to bring their young son by the house. It was summer, he would be joining the fifteen or sixteen other kids in my grade that fall, and it seemed the “neighborly ” thing to do.

Thirty-five years blurs a lot of the details but I didn’t want to play with the new kid in town. I wanted to sit on the back porch and read. The Hardy Boys were close to solving a mystery damn it, and I wanted to know what happened.

Eventually, I put the book down. If memory serves we spent the next hour throwing acorns at each other.

There hasn’t been a time since when I didn’t have a book that I was reading. My grandmother was a reader, as were both my parents. Sure, we watched plenty of television also, but reading was always considered just as entertaining a way to spend time. More often than not she can be found with her nose in her phone, but I’ve been happy to see our teenager develop the same love of books over the years.

As the kindergarten year comes to an end, one of the things that has amazed me is the rapid progression of Alaina’s reading skills over the past several months. She’s been getting bedtime stories since she was born and part of her homework every night has been memorizing “sight words” but the recent leap has been impressive. As with potty training, swimming and most other challenges it seems that as soon as she sets her mind to getting serious about something, she learns it. It can be frustrating stimulating that motivation, I’d like her to be able to tie her own shoes one of these days, but impressive regardless.

There is a downside, as there always seems to be with kids. She’s now determined to read everything herself, from signs at the park to the descriptions of television shows on the channel guide. I find it hard to believe that she needs to read a synopsis of today’s Spongebob episode before she decides that it’s worthy of her time, but I’m not going to discourage her. I love listening to her sound out words, constantly proud and surprised by how many she correctly identifies, but our bedtime routine has added an extra half hour as it’s no longer acceptable for us to do the reading.

She also needs to read her own menus now, words that she is less familiar with but that are usually accompanied by pictures. Beverages are a bit trickier, however, particularly the word Coke. There are a lot of things that I may have forgotten over the years but I will always remember the look of pure horror on the face of the young man who once had a five-year-old tell him that she “would like a large cock please.”

Previously published on


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Photo credit: Jeremy Barnes


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