I recently had the opportunity to attend a reading party with families from the West side of Cincinnati. This event was hosted by 4C for Children in collaboration with Read Aloud.org. The message delivered at the event was simple – parents can impact their children’s literacy and success in school by reading out loud. Parents who attended were encouraged to read aloud fifteen minutes per day with their children on their lap. During the event parents and children moved to different reading stations where a book was read and parents and their children participate in an activity that related to the book. Hopes were
that the stations would help parents see how reading aloud and interacting with their children through books benefits their learning and development.
Throughout the entire event, there was an air of excitement and joy. Parents and children eagerly moved to each reading station, listened to the story and together participated in an activity or craft. I watched one little boy learn to use scissors for the first time. After listening to a story about trucks, his mother helped him cut out a picture of a dump truck and glue it to a stick. Once done, the boy immediately jumped up, held his truck in the air and yelled, “Look, I did it! I did it all by myself!”
At the next station I noticed a mother with her four sons. They listened intently to the story and were instructed to put a bus together. The mother gathered her sons at a table and had each child take part in putting the bus together. There was a sense of connectedness as they worked as a family, each doing their part, each waiting their turn and all working together.
So often we hear about what goes wrong in a family – the parents that struggle and the children who are harmed or who lose their way. Often parents are blamed for what they do wrong or are judged for the poor decisions they make. But at this event, I observed a lot of parents doing it right by taking the time to be in the moment with their children. Books and activities were not only used to improve their children’s literacy and learning – but as a way to connect.
At the end of the event, parents were encouraged to stand up and make a pledge that they would read aloud to their children each day. And I feel sure that many of the parents who came to the event will do just that. But I also think about the deeper learning that came out of that event: the importance of getting on the floor, being with your children and accomplishing a task together. It may seem small to help a child use scissors for the first time or help children work cooperatively together, however, it is my opinion that it is in these very moments that we can each be the parent we really want to be.