There are many benefits that accrue to children who grow up as readers. Today I want to share a couple of recent incidents that illustrate benefits for parents of raising a child who enjoys reading.
First up, during the Thanksgiving break I had to take my daughter to both Costco and Safeway one morning. Shortly after we entered Costco we swung past the book section. She begged for a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book that she hadn't read yet (The Getaway). Being a sucker for books, I agreed. She promptly climbed into the back of the cart (luckily I didn't need very much on that trip) and proceeded to read through the entire shopping expedition. She continued reading, in a different shopping cart, while we were at Safeway. Throughout both stores she only asked for ONE THING, and did not complain when I said no. Normally I try not to shop with her at all, because she's constantly asking me to purchase various items. But not that trip, when there was reading to be done. I figure that the $8 that I paid for the book probably saved me quite a bit of money. Certainly it saved me stress, while providing some extra exercise from pushing the carts.
I repeated this experiment a few days later on a trip to the toy-filled, kid-mecca that is Target, agreeing (after some initial reluctance) to purchase a copy of Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson (companion book to Invisible Emmie, which my daughter had already read). This time, the only request she made throughout the rest of the trip was for vanilla yogurt (which was reasonable enough).
Moral #1: if you can train your child to basically have blinders on whenever she had a new book in front of her, you can safely walk her past even the most tempting of distractions. Shopping trips will be more economical and efficient, all for the low price of one new book.
The other incident occurred on a recent Sunday afternoon. My husband and I were working on various chores around the house. My daughter asked for a playdate but the friends we tried were busy and it didn't work out. Normally, this would have produced whining, at a minimum. But in this case, she simply disappeared. We had a peaceful and productive 90 minutes before she reappeared, announcing that she had read all of the first Five Worlds book and about half of the second. She was proud of her accomplishment and happy as a clam. And I got most of my Christmas cards addressed. It was a win all around, thanks to the power of reading.
Moral #2: if you can inspire your child to enjoy reading, and you ensure that there are always interesting books scattered strategically around your house, you will eventually be rewarded with periods of quiet time (during which no mess is generated).
As any parent (particularly any parent of an only child) knows, these benefits are not to be sneezed at. So, if you aren't already convinced that you should nurture a love of reading in your children for their sake, do it for yourself. You'll be glad you did.