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2014 May

Hit the Pause Button: Read

One of my favorite photographs is a picture of my mom reading to my kids when they were little. Mom was a public speaking teacher before she retired and had performed in Reader’s Theater, so she always read with great enthusiasm. My kids would sit beside her on the couch, mesmerized, helping to turn the pages and find out what happened next. 

I also loved reading aloud to my children. Even when they got a little older, we kept reading. One of our favorites was “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. This was a chapter book, so the only pictures of the characters and events that my kids saw were those they created in their heads, using their imagination. Of course, skillful writing by Mr. Lewis kept us in suspense, and often my sons would beg me to read another chapter before going to bed.

Besides stimulating curiosity and a love for stories, reading to your kids also provides an escape from the hectic pace of the world around us. As you read, both you and they enjoy peaceful quality time together, and you may find your kids asking questions about the book and life in general. Let them ask and take time to answer. Stimulating your children’s curiosity—and encouraging it—are the best gifts you can give them, especially in today’s rapidly changing world. 

Some years ago, my family was fortunate to spend six months camping through Europe. Of course, we have many rich memories of the places we saw and the adventures we had. Once in France the family camping next to us had an evening ritual that I thought was wonderful. After finishing dinner and cleaning up the dishes, the entire family—Mom, Dad, daughter and son—each took out a book and read for about an hour sitting around their campsite. It was so neat to see them pursuing an intellectual activity while enjoying each other’s company and the peacefulness of nature. I never succeeded in establishing that ritual with my family. My kids usually wanted to ride their bikes around the campground before going to bed, but I always admired that family for making reading an important part of their daily routine.

Are you making time for reading in your family? If your children are little, make an effort to spend time in a quiet place reading aloud to them. Need something to read? Our area libraries are overflowing with books, each one holding an exciting tale in its pages. 

These days there are so many distractions for kids: from games on smart phones, iPads, and computers to TV and video screens in every room of the house and sometimes in the family car. Children need peaceful moments, and reading to them and with them is the perfect way to hit the pause button in everyone’s busy lives. 

Happy Spring!

Peggy Sijswerda


Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.


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