May is National Short Story Month. The short story is typically a story that can be read in one sitting – which I guess defines most children’s books, especially the books I read to my own son Norrin. (After Norrin was diagnosed with autism, reading was the way we really connected. It gave us a chance to interact and it’s really helped his speech and his imagination.) We’re nowhere near reading chapter books or traditional short stories so I thought I’d focus on 5-minute stories.
I am currently rereading one of my all time favorite books: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (Not really appropriate for Norrin or anyone younger than twelve, but there’s a point to this.) It’s a coming of age story about a young Brooklyn girl, named Francie Nolan, in the early 1900s. Francie’s mother, Katie, believes that education and literacy is the only way out of poverty. Katie, a wash woman with a sixth grade education, begins reading a page of Shakespeare and page from the Bible to her children every night. They were the only two books the family owned. What I love about Tree is that you see how literature impacted Francie Nolan, it gave her something to strive for and dream about. Katie gave her daughter a gift without even realizing its magnitude.
Now I’m not saying you have to read Shakespeare or the Bible, but all it takes is five minutes a day. Reading with your child builds a stronger relationship and it helps with basic communication and speech skills. The benefits of reading to your child will last a lifetime.
As a working mom, I get that parents are tired, that their time is limited, and the reality is–not everyone loves to read. There are days when the last thing I want to do is read a book. But I still make sure that I read with Norrin.
Taking five minutes at the end of every day to read to your child could be the greatest gift that you can give.
And be sure to check out my list of 20 Books to Read Aloud with your kids and 12 Books to Celebrate Dia de los Ninos, Dia de los Libros.
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.