A story of reading.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Would you believe it if I told you that toddler Liam wanted very little to do with books? (Pictures can be deceiving. ;))

I was a new mom, and I'd ordered all the board books with the best reviews on Amazon. But as soon as I'd sit down to read with Liam, he'd be way more interested in the nearest electrical outlet or scrounging through the diaper bag for a snack. He loved throwing books, tearing out the pages of my Bible, running away from me squealing, or just about anything except sitting down to read. It felt like a losing battle. But for some reason, I stubbornly kept reading.

I read Giraffes Can't Dance until every word was memorized. Even today, the words just dance on my lips and tumble out in rhythm.

Little Blue Truck
Big Red Barn
The Bear Snores On

Sometimes I read all alone in his room after he'd flashed a mischievous smile and run away, hoping someday he would understand how truly delightful reading could be and would want to stay.

In my shortsighted anxiety as a new mom, I wondered if he'd ever want to read with me... if he'd ever sit still long enough to finish a board book, let alone something longer. I waited patiently for the day that he would and just kept reading, reading, reading.

You probably know that Liam's boycott of books didn't last. He learned to read just before kindergarten and hasn't looked back.

These days, I set him loose in a library (with his very own library card, of course) and he's a bloodhound, sniffing out a trail to his favorite series. He laps up chapter books like water, drinking them in two a day. He sits spellbound for hours, traversing great distances and decades with his favorite characters-turned-friends. Liam's goal this year is to finish 200 chapter books and I think he'll be there by summer.

Reading has strengthened our family bonds more than I imagined it could. The two of us keep a weekly book date where we sip decaf lattes and discuss his latest reads. It's honey to both of our hearts, we kindred story-lovers.

Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of the dimpled toddler face that's since thinned out and can hardly believe it's the same kid. The one who ran away when I pulled out a book just a handful of years ago.

So mama, if you're there right now, don't give up. Don't you dare shelve those great stories in defeat. Keep reading, even if your toddler wants nothing to do with it. Read aloud. Read often. Keep making trips to the library and filling up your basket. Be patient for the day things change, because when it arrives, it will be magical.
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