25 Jan, 2020
by Mika Ryan
The love of reading was nurtured by my mother when I was a toddler growing up in the late 1950s. She introduced my younger sister and me to a multitude of Little Golden Books classics, including The Three Bears, The Pokey Little Puppy, Captain Kangaroo, and Lassie Come Home.
For many families in rural North Carolina during the late 1950s and early 1960s, a black and white TV with 3 channel selections and rabbit ear antennas was at the top of the information and entertainment food chain. But for me, a trip to the public library was the gateway to a whole new world of people, places, animals and history.
After I entered first grade, reading became even more magical because I was allowed to check out books from the bookmobile during summer vacation. A bookmobile is essentially a library on wheels that came around every 2 weeks but the bookmobile stop was over a mile from our farm.
Our parents encouraged us to ride our ponies on a backwoods trail to the bookmobile stop. And how grown up my sister and I felt when they helped us get our own library cards! We counted the days in between the bookmobile stops and always made sure we had read the books we checked out. A book not returned on time resulted in a 3-cent daily fine!
We never knew what books would be available on the bookmobile, but it was through summer reading that I was introduced to Misty of Chincoteague and the writings of Marguerite Henry, the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and the Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary. We outgrew our ponies but not our love of books.
With all the great gadgets available today that entertain and keep children busy, why is it important to read to them like my mother read to us over 60 years ago?
Given my childhood experience and speaking as a parent of 3 daughters who are book lovers, reading to your child is one of the best bonding times for a family. Choosing and reading aloud a bedtime story is a great way to connect at the end of the day for all family members.
Reading a book to your child can help little readers learn good manners such as sitting still, paying attention and listening patiently. Reading a book together can also help your child learn how to relate to others and even develop empathy for others.
With this in mind, I hope you and your child will benefit from reading Hank the Therapy Dachshund as he shares his life lessons about the importance of family, loving one another, facing challenges, empathy and service to country. Bookmobiles may be obsolete but Hank’s life lessons are timeless.