Sam Asks: What Do You Read To Your Children?



We had been dating for about a year when Steve asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I was an English and Drama double major after all, so I supposed it was a serious question to ask someone who you’d been seeing for such a long time. My parents have always encouraged me to “reach a little higher” to “collect as many stars as I could,” and I had made this clear to Steve in previous conversations. Therefore I think he was as surprised as anyone when I answered simply, “I want to be someone’s mom.”

It’s not that I don’t have ambitions for my life outside of raising children and running a home. I value my students and my job in the classroom. I love each story they polish and hand in. My heart swells when they write me little notes or letters that say I made a difference to them. I like doing things that will help improve my teaching and cast the widest most meaningful net in my instruction. However, I feel that this job spoke to me because above all I was meant to be a mom.

The past few months have been very emotional for me because early next year I will finally get my dream job, being a mom. Honestly, I already have it. The decisions I make now about diet and exercise don’t just impact me anymore, I have a whole other set of lungs to worry about. And worry I do. I’ve read TONS of books already from what to name the baby to what and when to feed the baby, it’s all out there! I’ll tell you all about my thoughts on “those books” some other time.

My husband and I have been doing a lot of thinking and talking about what’s in store for us in the next year. A lot of it we can’t even imagine, I think it’s one of those “you have to go through it” type of things. But some things we can prepare for, and one of those things we’ve already started to work on: this kid is going to be a reader.

Every night before bed we’ve been taking turns reading through some of our favorite childhood picture books. It has been quite a good way to learn even more about each other, and after 6 years together that’s something we never take for granted. I have loved hearing about Steve’s favorite stories growing up and have enjoyed sharing with him some of my memories of my father reading. I noticed tonight that I have even taken on some of my father’s Norwegian intonation in stories he read to me countless times.

We have both come to look forward to this nightly ritual and have been doing our best to keep it interesting. We do silly voices, act it out, dress up, the works! There has been much laughter in the Tisi house, which I think has brought us even closer.

Tonight was my turn to read to Steve, Pepper (our two-year old Yorkie), and the baby. I chose a classic story from my childhood: The Story of May by Mordicai Gerstein. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a young spring month, May, who goes on a journey through the calendar year to visit her father December. He and her mother April simply couldn’t get along and so the family decided the months should be organized in their own places to keep the peace. What I love about this story is that it is so elegantly crafted. Gerstein personifies the months into larger than life characters that feel like old friends, or close family. His use of language is gorgeous and it’s the type of story that begs to be read aloud. I can remember falling asleep to the sound of my dad’s deep, slow as molasses rumble for August. I can remember feeling an inexplicable chill as he whispered a frail old voice for grandmother November. This book meant so much to me growing up and the fact that I get to share it now with my own family brings tears to my eyes (maybe it’s just the hormones…)

I think that reading is such a social event, we can see that each time we stop by this or any other blog. I notice that in the halls outside my classroom. I hope this baby is a social reader, as readers see the world in such a special way.

I smile thinking about how, even now, months before this baby is here it has already become a staple of my family’s evening routine. I am so excited for everything that is ahead for us. I can’t wait to grow a little library that will help inspire an active imagination and inspire this little peanut to do whatever it is they want to do! For now we will have to do the dreaming on the baby’s behalf; we will have to choose the stories.

Happiness is a house where the best question of the day is, “So what should we read tonight?”

With all that said, I ask, what books do you do read to your children? What stories impacted you as a youth?

11 thoughts on “Sam Asks: What Do You Read To Your Children?

  1. I dont have kids of my own (through choice), but have several nieces and nephews. I enjoy getting them books for christmas etc – I’m book auntie – and love cuddling with them when they’re really young to look over picture books.

    I live away from all of them, so dont see them on a regular basis, so rarely get the chance to read to them.

    Good luck with motherhood, take every chance to read with them when you can. Dont be hung up on “we must read together at 5pm every day”, because life doesnt always work out that way, go with “we should read together every day we can make it”. Sometimes it will be 4pm, sometimes it will be 3am when you’re trying to get the baby back to sleep.

    There are some excellent books out there for children nowadays – personally I enjoy the “That is not my….” series and the heavy cardboard ones they can gum whilst teething -so it should be lovely to pick the ones you remember, plus some modern ones, to set off a new tradition

  2. Reading is HUGE in our family. We read a book/child (we have 2) each night before bed. It used to be 2 actual age-appropriate books but my oldest has been picking out simple chapter books and we read a chapter a night.

    To get a good start, you can’t go wrong with basic board books by Sandra Boynton. Great illustrations and fun text. Probably good to start once baby is at the 1 year range 🙂

    I remember for a brief while I was reading Anne of Green Gables to my then 4 year old but since there are no images it was difficult to keep her attention. She’s now 7 so it might be time to pull those back out. Thank and my Little House on the Prairie books 🙂

  3. We are proud parents of 3, with our oldest 2 being both under 4 ( yes, we are really nuts). My wife and are ferocious readers, and wanted to instill our love for books to our kids as well. My unsolicited suggestion, and you’ll get a lot of these as a parent, is to make reading a part of your nighttime routine. Bath, Jammie’s, brush teeth, then reading books for 30 minutes. They love it, and will pick a book over a toy to bring in the car witH them every time. Good luck!

  4. When my kids were infants, I would read my books aloud to them while I was nursing. My kids like the sound of my voice, and it was soothing to all of us. (My eldest got treated to all of Proust and some Harry Potter, and my youngest got a slew of romances and some Margaret Atwood…) When the girls were about eighteen months old, we started doing story time before bed. Right now, my elder daughter’s favorite is Fox in Socks and my younger daughter vacillates between Go Dogs Go!, It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny, and But Not the Hippopotamus.

    My favorite books to read the kids (not that I get much choice in the matter) are We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Rosen/Oxenbury), Fox in Socks, and Blueberry Girl (Gaiman).

    The fun thing about reading aloud to the kids is that my husband, who is not a reader, has gained a lot of confidence as his reading ability has improved. Also, I think he understands a little more why I so enjoy curling up on the couch with a good book.

    Have fun with parenting! It’s not easy, but there’s so much joy to be had in it.

    • You two are great and are going to be wonderful parents.
      I have read to my two boys (10 and 12) their whole lives until recently. We stopped because I wanted them to become independent readers and enjoy books as my wife and I do. I’m a bit sad to give up, but I think that’s because I wanted to carry on mroe than they did. I think we’ll read together again, or share recommendations, my eldest is reading “Wolf Brother” – Michelle Paver on my recommendation and I think I’ll be reading books they recommend to me. So we’ll become our own Book Club! Thanks for the post and making me think beyond what is currently going on. (Hard to do when you are a parent but worth the effort to keep an eye on where you’re all headed).

  5. This post has brought back such happy memories for me! I taught English and History to 11-16 year olds, up until the time I was pregnant with my first child. When I “retired” from teaching in 1976, little did I know that it would be four babies later before I returned to the world of work. Books had always played a significant role in my life and, like you, I wanted my children to develop a similar love of reading. I continued to read aloud to them all for many years – a precious bedtime ritual, even when there was a pile of ironing to do! Only one of my four has become the book addict that I am, but the others have all continued with the family tradition of reading to their children. I now have six grandchildren, who have come to love books and who know that Nannie Angela can be relied on to provide new books for birthday and Christmas…and any other time, for that matter.
    Wishing you much joy in your journey into parenthood.

  6. I agree with Beeseeker what and important question. I do have to say that I am just so excited to be following your blog. Reading is a big big deal in our house we all read from my 13 year old to my 11 month old and they all love it. My 13 year old is now at the age where she pretty much chooses her reading material from her age group and well my 9 and 10 year old love going to the library and they love to read Beverly Cleary, they have read Where The Red Fern Grows and well my 3 and 11 month old I love Mark Twain, and that line of reading.
    I myself love to read true stories,biblical books, old books, self help and many more I just love a good book not really a preference. my husband loves western books and loves History reading material.
    I wish you all the best of luck with your new venture in being a mom, I can tell you it is the most amazing blessing to have a bundle of joy that you can read to and love and hold know that because of all the reading and love this child will be one step a head.
    I am a firm believer in reading it is a must it is good education and gets children a lot further in life, it is not enforced enough in homes.

  7. My grandsons have their own collection of books and it gives them comfort to have them re-read. There’s nothing a child likes better than to listen to the familiar and correct you if you miss a page or even a word. But there comes a time when mum or grandma has had enough of the farting boy, or that rude girl, Cecily who’s forced to hold her tongue for a month. That’s where the library comes in handy. Lots of choices there, and often you can get the friendly librarian to order in a book that’s caught your eye in the bookshop. And of course, you can always return the books once you’ve had enough. 🙂

  8. “Pickle Chiffon Pie” by Jolly Rodger Bradfield was always one of my favorite favorite books as a child. I still have the old, beat up copy on my bookshelf. It’s a charming story about three princes who set out to win the heart of the princess, and it teaches a meaningful lesson while also being hilarious, clever and imaginative all at the same time. It’s a book I plan to hang on to and read to my children someday in the future. 🙂

We'd love to discuss this post with you. Drop us a line!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s