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Commentary: Children's Book Week

By Peg Lynch

Buffalo, NY – When I was a very little girl, my father often told me that the whole world would open up to me when I learned to read. It turned out to be so true, but my world first began to open up when my parents read TO me. The combination of sharing a wonderful book, a story, or even the Sunday comic pages with Mom or Dad also planted the seed for a lifetime love of reading.

November 17-23 is the 84th observance of Children's Book Week, a time to honor those wonderful books that have enriched children's lives for generations. Do you remember some of your favorites? Who can forget the charm of The Wind In the Willows, the tears and anxiety that went along with a first, second, or third reading of Black Beauty, the joyful repetition contained in Dr. Seuss's books, or the melodic language as Max "sailed back over a year, and in and out of weeks, and through a day, and into the night of his very own room" in Where the Wild Things Are? A whole new generation of children now growing up with contemporary classics like Harry Potter, Holes, Snowflake Bentley and Officer Buckle and Gloria still experience that powerful phenomena of identification with the best of children's literature.

Don't have the time, you say? There are many ways to fit reading time into the day. Does your car have a tape or CD player? Borrow books on tape from the children's department at your local public library and have story time in the car on your way to the store, soccer practice, or the mall. Have your child read to you while you're fixing dinner or washing the dishes. Take your child to story hour at the library, and steal a few minutes for yourself to explore the other treasures there. Make reading a part of the bedtime routine. A chapter or two before lights out is a cozy way to end the day, and can be a reassuring ritual for your child.

If you don't know what to choose, ask your local librarian for help. There are many wonderful books out there for every age and interest. Take a few home and see what your child seems to enjoy, then go back for more of the same. Books make wonderful Christmas gifts, too. Children love having their own library, and ask that their favorites be read to them again and again. It's the ultimate "quality time" investment!

So, open the world to your children and share some of yourself at the same time by reading with them as much as you can, as often as you can. Give them the gift of a lifetime by helping them associate reading with fun, laughter, and affection.

They'll remember it forever, believe me. And, they'll love you for it.

Listener-Commentator Peg Lynch is director of the Lockport Public Library.