Teach Your Child the Joy of Reading

Ella and her app

Children of today have fantastic technology at their fingertips. My great-granddaughter could find her favorite app on her mommy’s phone by the time she was eighteen months old… (I have trouble.) This generation is growing up in a whole new visual/special effects world, with tremendous advantages… but the skills of the past are still needed. I don’t think the ability to read will ever fail to be an asset… If I’m wrong, I think it’s generations away.

There is joy in reading for pleasure, and I hope there always will be.

More than that, the ability to read cracks the door to doing well in school. And, reading well throws it wide open.

According to statistics presented to us in the news a large percentage of high school students can’t read. This is not a new problem. Rudolf Flesch’s WHY CAN’T JOHNNY READ was first published in 1955. My word! It was a problem when I was in high school! There were teachers there to teach students to read all along the way — at least eight grades before they reached high school. Why didn’t they learn to read?

I think they didn’t want to…

They didn’t know the joy of reading.

Why could my eighteen-month-old great granddaughter find that app? She wanted to watch the video she loved. Wanting to experience that joy motivated her and her little fingers learned to slide the iPhone screens until she found her app.

You can introduce the child in your life to the joy of the written word long before he/she learns to read. Here’s my suggestion:

Read to your child. Start with illustrated books; enjoy the colorful pictures along with the story. Then introduce the child to text-only stories. Snuggle the child in your lap for some one-on-one time. With his/her eyes closed and listening, let the story unfold. As the child learns to listen, creating  pictures in his/her mind should come natural. This is what we do when we read. It gives us pleasure and instilling this joy may lead to a desire to learn to read.

“Want to”  motivation is very strong.


I was thinking about Fred this morning. I need to get “in the zone” and figure out what Amy K is wearing. My conscious mind seems to be bogged down with other stuff and temporarily dedicated to procrastination. So creative activity is at a standstill. What is Amy K wearing? Pajamas. I think Fred knows the details but he isn’t talking.

While thinking about Fred and this dilemma, I had a flashback to the 2010 OWFI Writer’s Conference. I’ll always be grateful to K.D. Wentworth for  one of the most memorable conference sessions I ever attended.

I had three choices for the 11 o’clock session on Friday: Book Editor’s Panel, Freelancing for Newspapers, and Accessing Your Imagination. It was a toss-up. Although I thought I was pretty good at accessing my imagination and I had little in common with an award winning science fiction/fantasy writer, I had to choose something and it was the best of the three. So, I found the room, took a seat about three rows from the front, and waited.

I wasn’t too impressed when K.D. Wentworth stepped behind the podium.  When she began to speak in her soft voice, I was glad to be near the front; but her monotone made me wish I’d sat near the back so I could slip out. About three sentences in, she delivered a line that sent a wave of chuckles around the room. She gave us a little bio and her writing history. And, a couple of sentences into her topic, she had us memorized with her dry humor, perfect delivery, and valuable information.

She told us that writers, no matter what genre we write, have a common need. We all need to access the fountain of ideas hidden in our subconscious. And then she introduced us to Fred. It was my understanding that Fred is the name she gave that small voice that speaks from her subconscious.

She told us how Fred solved plot and character problems while she slept. I’m not sure if he visited her in her dreams or whispered to her in the morning. Maybe some of both. Anyway, when she woke up in the morning, suddenly knowing what should happen next in her story, it was the wonderful work of her subconscious, Fred.

She said we all have one and we can name it anything we want. It can be male or female. The important thing is to free the subconscious to do its job and then learn to recognize the voice.

A few days after returning home from that conference, I discovered that Fred had followed me home. I saw no reason to change his gender or name. I liked Fred, now that I knew he existed. I love his visits and those mornings when he whispers in my ear. Dan is even impressed. “What did Fred say?” is a frequent question when we’re discussing a writing dilemma. Dan is a very good assistant when I need my math checked or some other left-brain analytical input. But, Fred… he’s my right brain associate.

After that conference, I vowed that I’d never miss an opportunity to hear K.D. Wentworth speak. I’m so sad to report that no one will have that opportunity. I learned from a Google search this morning that she passed away in April 2012. Thank you K.D. Wentworth for introducing me to Fred. I’m so sorry you’re gone, but you left a good memory and a gold nugget of information.


My Special Day

Today is my birthday, I’m seventy-three.

It seems like yesterday I was eighteen and going away to college. That’s when my life began. Until then, I was in training, under the tutelage of my mom and dad.

Only yesterday, I was eighteen and met the man I would marry. Only yesterday, I was nineteen and marrying the man of my dreams. Only yesterday, I was twenty-one, holding our newborn son in my arms. Only yesterday, I was twenty-four, holding our newborn daughter. Only yesterday… the years flew by. The kids grew up, married, and gave us grandchildren. More years flew by, the grandchildren grew up, and now our fourth great-grandchild is on the way. My, how did it all happen so fast?

At thirty, I discovered my dream to be a writer and followed it… and now that I’m seventy-three, I’m still following that same dream. My, why is it taking so long? Yes. I’m a writer, the author of many published works: magazine stories, newspaper articles, books, and a blog. Still, my dream isn’t complete… there’s always another book to write, and the dream that my next will be my best.

My goals are all part of my dream. When I reach one goal, I dream up another. They’re my promise to myself of tomorrow’s potential.

Laundry Day

It’s Friday, not Monday, but I’m doing laundry. I ran out of my favorite sweatshirts last Tuesday and I’ve been wearing underwear that continuously needs adjusting…  but I’m a procrastinator, and I don’t like to do laundry – I’d rather write… or read… or play games on my Kindle Fire.

Still, the time had come so… I carried my basket of dirties to the laundry room, shoved them in the washer, poured fabric softener and detergent into the dispenser, and pushed the button. I grumbled all the time, knowing the signal would sound while I was busy with something more pleasant. In the middle of my grumble, I had a flashback… and stopped right there and gave thanks for the convenience of modern technology.

When I was a child, on Monday — every Monday, Mama pulled the wringer washer in place and positioned the two rinse tubs.  She sorted the laundry into piles, heated the wash water on the stove, and mixed a pan of starch. When everything was ready, she put the least soiled load in the wash tub and let it agitate, and then ran those items through the wringer three times — from the washer to the first rinse tub, to the second rinse tub, and into the basket. With the next load in the washer, she hoisted the basket on her hip, slung the clothespin bag over her shoulder, and headed for the clothesline. Every home had clotheslines; no one had dryers in those days. And, hanging sheets on the line in a strong wind with below freezing temps was a challenge.

I still remember the Monday morning smells, laundry soap, bluing, bleach, and starch. Yes, starch. The term, wash and wear, was yet to be invented. Everything except underwear and socks was starched and ironed. As soon as the starched clothes came off the line, they were sprinkled, rolled, placed in the ironing basket, and covered with a couple of heavy towels.

Tuesday was ironing day.

(I believe my grandmother heated her wash water in a large black cast-iron pot over a wood fire, used a washboard ’til her knuckles bled, wrung each item out by hand, and heated her irons on a burner on the stove.)

Did I mention that I’m so thankful for the conveniences of modern technology?