To Parents of Older Children
The typical scenario goes like this:
A child learns how to read. His parents phase themselves out of the "read-aloud" role. Even though as a small child he grew up with the tradition of receiving books for birthdays and holidays, the important adults in his life gradually stop giving him books. Eventually, the only ones he reads are those he's assigned in school.
It is an emotional and spiritual treasure, though, to continue to get the message that a caring adult is willing to walk with him amidst the world of literature, happy to cozy up with him while they're both reading their own books or enjoying a read-aloud together.
We want our children to believe, with us, that reading is important, that it will open up countless otherwise unexperienced worlds. We wish for our children the good, nurturing memories that flourish, years later, amidst recollections of a superb fantasy, a spine-tingling adventure tale, or an encounter with Truth while reading about courage and hope. Amidst the Legos and skateboards and computer software, we want them to receive something that will endure, that they can hold lovingly in their hands, and perhaps plan to pass on to their children. A good book is one of the few things that fill all these needs.
It is these needs whose voices are crying out so loudly in these times, a first-ever period of history when the opportunities for rituals are systematically being obliterated amidst our hectic lives. Because modern society has relinquished the role of sustaining rituals, INDIVIDUALS, for the first time ever, must take the responsibility for creating their own. The tradition of giving a book as part of a celebration, as well as the custom of reading together, is a really eloquent application of ritual that can only strengthen the bonds of a family.