Gift of Reading

Dear Day School Families,

Some of my most treasured childhood memories revolve around books. That might be because my mother is the biggest book lover I know. She’s a retired school librarian and even in her retirement she works part time at a small, independent book store. One of my favorite memories was curling up in my parent’s bed while my mom read “The Hobbit” to my brother and me. I can still recall the immense feeling of pride of getting my own library card and being able to write my name on it by myself.   I’ll never forget attending the weekly Story Time at my neighborhood library where the librarian would close our time together by going around with a sock puppet and “tasting” each child’s finger and saying what they tasted like. I usually tasted like spaghetti.

While organizing one of our storage closets this week, one of our teachers stumbled across something special. It’s a framed letter from Barbara Bush from 1995. The letter reads:

“Dear Highland Park Presbyterian Day School students, parents, and teachers,

As a literacy advocate, I’m delighted to hear about Turn Off the TV and Read Week. Reading is one of the great joys of my life, and I am thrilled to learn of programs that encourage it. Since I was a child, books have been my constant companions, and they continue to teach, inspire, and entertain me.

Parents are their child’ first teachers, and the home is the child’s first school, so I encourage all Day School parents to take time out and read to their children, not only this week, but as often as possible. Reading keeps me open to the world and opens the world to me--- it is a passport to a whole new world.”

I really feel like this discovery was nothing short of serendipity! With our Fall Book Fair starting next week, I knew I wanted to write about my love of books for this newsletter. Mrs. Bush perfectly summarized the importance and magic of reading that I was hoping to convey! I also love knowing that our sweet school implanted a “Turn Off the TV and Read Week” decades ago. In honor of Mrs. Bush and our upcoming Fall Book Fair, I am challenging our Day School community to reach for a book when we are tempted to turn on our TV’s or pick up our phones. After a long day of work, chores at home and driving my daughter to and from her athletics, I am definitely guilty of unwinding by watching mindless reality TV or scrolling through my phone. How might things change for our families if we increase our daily reading time? For adults, research show we will see a decrease in stress and we will sleep better. Our focus, memory and analytical skills will improve. Reading to and with our children will help them increase their vocabulary, concentration, imagination and empathy.

I hope you will join me in making a change in your daily routines. Let’s encourage our children to turn off Paw Patrol and put down the I-Pads and crawl into our laps and dive into a story together. Let’s end our evenings in curled up with a good book instead of the glow of our phones shining back at us. I hope you will swing by our Fall Book Fair next week to find some wonderful new books to share as a family!

In Him, 

Ashley Hickey