The death of Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, was sad news indeed. But it reminded me of the importance of reading books to children. To be more specific, reading books to babies and from the earliest possible moment getting them used to the rhythm, melody and flow of words.
I cannot remember anyone reading to me when I was a child. I might be wrong there but I really cannot remember. But, within weeks of my two sons being born, I would read to them every night as they were drifting off to sleep. I assumed the sleepiness was due to their natural human tiredness, although I suppose it could have been my delivery. No matter. The important thing was to read stories to them. Over time they developed their own favourites and would prefer to hear stories repeated, a kind of verbal comfort. Some evenings, I would be so exhausted after work that I would skip a couple of sentences and the boys would perk up knowing full well that I was editing the stories. It showed me they were listening, absorbing and enjoying this nightly entertainment.
Thankfully there is no shortage of books out there but I wonder if there is a shortage of parents who can be bothered to read to their children. Maybe they think a glass of wine or a TV show is higher up the agenda. To me, investing time in children from their first gurgles as babies until they develop the skills to read and write for themselves, is not a pious or worthy effort. It is essential.
My sons grew up on fairytales, nursery rhymes, Roald Dahl, Dick King-Smith and many others including the wondrous Michael Bond and Paddington. (Nurture a bond with books. That just came to me!)
Books are great lifelong companions. Start the friendships early.