Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Passionate about Reading

Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around books.
  • Sitting on the arm of my dad's chair while he read to my brother and me.

  • Reading the whole Trixie Belden series during elementary school and junior high with my friend Marci.

  • Begging my mom to let me read "just one more chapter" every night after she would tuck me in.
Although I had wanted to major in math in college, increasing bewilderment and a poor calculus grade helped me make the switch to English. It just seemed to be a natural fit.

When I first came to Nigeria, I read 40 books during my first three months here. I guess I had some time on my hands!

Many of the Nigerian women I work with tell me, "I can't read because I only finished elementary school. " To emphasize that point, Bayo was dumbfounded when Tobi was reading fluently by the end of 1st grade.

I started reading books to Tobi when he was about 6 weeks old. My Nigerian friends thought I was strange, but I knew what I was doing. All three of my children love books.

Last Sunday morning we were relaxing around the house since church wasn't until 10 a.m. The house seemed too quiet so I walked through to see what everyone was doing: Lily was 'reading' a book in the livingroom. David was doing the same in his bedroom. I'm so glad that they turn to books when they have time on their hands. From the kids' bookshelf pictured above, you can see that we have made books accessible to them.

I came across an interesting article recently about Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He grew up in a working class family that had little time for books. When an uncle died, his family inherited the uncle's walls of books. Gioia credits those books for all of his educational and professional achievements.

An NEA reading study found the following:

  • "Books in the home, even if they aren't necessarily read by the parents,
    promote better scores not only in English, but also in science and math.

  • Shelves of books are more important than income or parental educational
    background.

  • Students of high-school-educated parents living in homes with more than 100
    books outscored students with college-educated parents and 0-10 books at home."
    (World, Oct. 4/11, 2008)

Wow. Books~what a wonderful legacy to pass on to our children.

1 comment:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

My friend, an English major, had a wall-full book case in her living room. A repair man was at the house and he expressed amazement that perhaps she had read all those books!

We have a lot of books too, given that I was an LC English major. I read a lot, but for some reason I rarely read novels any more. I guess needs and interests change. I've mostly been getting rid of books I've already read.

Good for you: reading to your babies. They need to hear the sounds of the language and connect with the pictures. Do your kids have another mother tongue as well as English?