Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Read Me a Story, Mr. President

I just had to take a minute to share this article from the April 14, 2009 edition of the Huffington Post (article from the Associated Press, written by Natasha T. Metzler). The story is about the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, held on Monday, April 13. During the gathering, President Obama read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak to the children (an excellent choice). The article includes a video of the President reading, making sure all the kids can see the pictures and pointing out details in the drawings (which was a thoughtful touch for those who weren't sitting in the front row). He does a good job of getting the kids to try certain actions from the story (like staring without blinking and roaring like a wild thing), which is always an effective way to keep a child's attention. According to the article, the First Lady and her mother also read to the children, though the slide show depicts Sasha and Malia also getting involved (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff).

I always find it endearing to see world leaders taking the time to read to kids, even though the cynical response is to recognize that this is a lovely PR moment. I can't help but think that even if there are ulterior motives, if someone like the "Leader of the Free World" can take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to read a book to some kids he doesn't even know, then there's no reason at all why any of us can't take a few minutes out of our day to read a book to our own children. You're the leader of your own home, and the Commander in Chief of your child's first experiences of the world, his or her outlook and attitudes toward reading and learning, and the fostering of his or her imagination. So let the red phone ring a minute---they'll call back. Ok, so you can't always drop everything to take a book from your child's insistent hands, but if you can't read that book now, promise to read it later and keep your promise. And never think that your child is too old to want to be read to; everyone likes to be read to (even you do, admit it!). If they're older they might roll their eyes and refuse your offer of storytime, but make the offer anyway. They'll always remember that you did.

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