An Ode to Storytime

Every night, when Greyson is sleepy-silly and headed to bed, I read him 3 or 4 books. And every morning right after he wakes up, when he’s groggy-calm and bedheaded, I read him another 3 or 4 books. (That is, unless the weather allows me to take him out for a sunrise walk to mingle with the local farm animals.) In addition, throughout the day Danielle reads him another 6 to 10 books.

So on an average day, Greyson is serenaded with at least a dozen stories.  And that doesn’t include the numerous pages he leafs through on his own, sitting on the hardwood floor with a book resting on his lap as he identifies with his sweet little sing-song voice every animal, insect, vehicle, toy, and household object on each page.

This reading proclivity, as with everything good about our kids (or yours), is surely due in part to sheer happy luck. It’s possible, I begrudgingly admit, that Violet will not share her brother’s avid affinity for storybooks. But I’d like to think that our efforts were part of the equation. Since our early months as new parents, a central pillar of our parenting philosophy has been: Smother our kids with stories. Wire them for sound — not the sound of the TV, or the sound of some kids’ iPad game, but the sound of the written word being read aloud from the comfort of a warm lap.

We have unwaveringly prioritized this, just as our parents thankfully did from the time we were toddlers. And now every time we ask Greyson, “Do you want me to read you a book?,” he smiles and says “Yes!” as he runs over to the book bin to pick out his favorite. Then he climbs up into our lap (or at this point, since he’s getting so tall, next to our lap), nestles himself against us, and settles in for a story.

In most cases, he’s already heard that story several dozen times. Yet despite the repetition, there are very few diminishing returns. Greyson somehow seems to enjoy books even more if he’s used to their flow and can identify everything on a page as soon as we flip to it.

Greyson Pointing at Earthworm

On a side note, it’s uncanny to me how adeptly he can remember the names of even fairly obscure vehicles and creatures — a grapple skidder, a crayfish, a red-winged blackbird. Heck, he can identify the caddisfly larvae that Kate Messner charmingly introduced him (and me) to in Over and Under the Pond. Greyson clearly inherited his razor-sharp memory from his mama.

For all the likely intellectual benefits of parental reading, its greatest selling point is that it promotes an emotional and even a physical bond between parent and child. The moments I spend with my arm around Greyson, his oddly redolent head resting against my shoulder as I regale him with some animal-based tale of whimsy, are moments when he knows beyond question — beyond words — that I love and value him.

And that I’m here for him, and with him.

Right here. In this moment.

With nowhere to go.


2 thoughts on “An Ode to Storytime

  1. Are library commercials a thing? If not, they should be, if for no better reason than to get kids to read instead of TV. And you should be the spokesman! So we’ll-said. And think of all the thousands of book pages our mom has encouraged kids & adults to read, from keeping up an up-to-date libary, to running reading clubs, to reading to kids & grandkids. She obviously passed on the good habit to your family!


    • I agree, Chad — library commercials would be a dynamite idea! Why is that not a thing? I also agree that our dear mom is the single greatest reason that I feel passionately about raising our kids on a steady diet of books, books, and more books.

      Thanks a lot for reading (and commenting), my brother.


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