Turning Pages :: Read Across America Day

I remember exactly how many pages my mother got through before pausing to lick the very tip of her right index finger. An almost formidable act, followed immediately by a quick turn of the page and continuation of the story. Likely, something to do with pastel-hued kittens and/or the Stinky Cheese Man

It was four. Sometimes, five, depending on the thickness of the page. Nothing from Eric Carle’s collection put up much of a fight {smoother stock}. But works of Seuss, depending on the release date, could sometimes require triple licks. Don’t get me started on Little Golden Books {skipped many a page}. 

Turning Pages :: Read Across America Day | Houston Moms Blog

I know this exact number, because my mother read to us so often and with such passion that every part of the experience, from the way she held the book angled on her lap to the voice she used for ALL the animal parts, was just as important to me as the happy ending. 

She brought every single story to life; as if it was unfolding and whispering its secrets to us, right there in our bedroom. Our imaginations grew, as did our compassion for others, and the outrageous desire to chase dragons {or dreams, whatever you want to call them}. 

By taking the time to read with us, daily, she shaped my entire life. Her enthusiasm and joy for words made everything in my childhood more magical and vibrant. It allowed my mind to paint, without touching a brush. Made me want to be a storyteller; it’s the reason I feel lost without a pen {I can always find a scrap of paper}. 

I am an obnoxiously voracious reader because of her. And I have worked hard to pass that love on to my own children. 

But I am WAY better at character voices than her. You should hear my misunderstood pirate. Rave reviews, that one. 

Turning Pages :: Read Across America Day | Houston Moms Blog

Since it’s conception, Read Across America Day has been celebrated on March 2nd. This date was chosen because it is the birthday of beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss. Since March 2nd is on a Saturday this year, the majority of school events took place on Friday, March 1st. But the sentiment will carry on throughout the weekend and following week, as children are encouraged to join in on the reading initiative which is simply :: everybody, everywhere, pick up a book and read. 

This genius idea was conceived in 1997, by a small group within the National Education Association, with the beautiful goal of creating a celebration to get more children excited about reading. At their website, you can find an entire list of reading activities to engage children every single day of the year. They are basically doing the majority of the work for you. You just have to open the book. 

If I could, I would hug them. The kind of hug that lasts too long and makes people nervous sweat. 

According to my March issue of Better Homes and Garden, {which faithfully arrives in my mailbox every month, regardless of the houseplants I kill and style I lack}, “Diving into a book can reduce your stress levels by 68 percent. Reading regularly has also been shown to help sharpen your mind, fend off dementia, and foster empathy.” 

And it’s free. Be a hero; get a library card. 

 

Turning Pages :: Read Across America Day | Houston Moms Blog

So I encourage you today, and every day, to read to your children even if the moon isn’t out, to surprise your friend with a book that reminds you of her, to wander through a bookstore and seek a new genre, to stay up past your bedtime to finish another chapter, and if you find yourself head over heels with a collection of pretty words–talk about it, yell about it, send it out to the world and let others know its importance. Read. Share. Repeat. 

If you are looking for suggestions for your children, I’ve consulted with two experts in the field, my offspring, and they have chosen their top choices for bedtime entertainment :: 

Turning Pages :: Read Across America Day | Houston Moms Blog

Dawson ::

Everything I know About Cars :: A Collection of Made-Up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Cars, Trucks, and Other Zoomy Things; recommended for ages 4 – 8. 

Evie ::

The Color Kittens; recommended for ages 3 – 7. 

And because I believe in the power of words and pictures tightly wound together, I think it is essential to show our children diverse books and encourage open talk about all areas of life.

Here are some of my top suggestions for bringing more diversity into your home ::

To end, I’ve decided to gift you all with the knowledge of the books that built me. The ones that refuse to be forgotten. You all have a similar list, I’m sure. 

The First One :: The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales 

I sincerely believe this is were I developed my dark humor and strange wit. It has served me well. 

The Ones I Read By Myself :: Snot Stew and Bunnicula

When I learned how to read by myself, these were the first two that I allowed myself to purchase a real bookmark for. No dog-ears allowed. I was a serious reader now. 

The One That Broke My Heart :: Bridge to Terabithia

My first book heartbreak; the one that pierced my soul and left me softer. The first time I realized that death could affect someone my age. That life could be taking away and happy endings weren’t guaranteed. That I could simultaneously fall in love with a book and want to throw it out the window. 

The One(s) That I Grew Up With :: Sideways Stories from Wayside School, the Alice series, and the Goosebumps series

One made me important enough to be on the inside of a joke, one made me feel like I had a buddy through my most fragile {and gangly} stage, and one made me realize the power of horror and friendship {and how often the two were dependent on each other}. 

 

The One I’ll Never Forget :: Harry Potter Series. 

I could explain what this series meant to me. Or I could just show you a picture from my son’s newborn photo shoot :: 

You feel me? #always 

I still own copies of all the books I just mentioned. Fully prepared to force them on my children at the appropriate time.  

I’ve graduated to grittier things now–my latest series would make your granny blush. But I still enjoy an epic tale or a heartwarming story from the dog’s POV. I’m open to ANY books that move a person enough to recommend them–and if they just aren’t my cup of tea, I pass them on to other waiting hands. 

Someone is always ready for a new book. 

Books have changed my life. Have turned over the sadness moments, given my direction and passion, have allowed me to escape the world when deep breaths wouldn’t suffice. They have made me a nicer, more aware, and curious person. A better mother. 

And that’s all because someone read to me. 

And yesterday, on Read Across America Day, I was able to celebrate her. The original book worm. The person I hope to dedicate my first published book to. The one that first put a book in my hand and helped me sound out the big words. 

Happy birthday, mama. Of course the day of your birth would be associated with the world opening books and encouraging a new generation to fall in love with reading. 

Well played, nerd. 


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