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The Treasure of reading to Children

By Maxine Thompson

This placard graced my late mother's bedroom wall, and until recently, I didn't understand what it meant.

After spending a normal vacation with my loved ones in Atlanta and Detroit, I reflected how wonderful it is to enjoy adult children and grandchildren when times are normal. No one in the immediate family was in harm's way. Everyone is being blessed. One friend is moving into a new house. Instead of coming home for a funeral, or a death watch, I was just home to enjoy the moment. Things are looking up. Lesson learned.

We have to treasure our moments of serenity.

Now I'd like to paraphrase this saying and add, "Reading to children, what a treasure it is."

I often speak on the issue of the shortage of African American books for children and teenagers. Too many of our teenagers are reading books meant for adults because of the shortage of book. Still too many African American teenagers are dropping out of school.

Last summer, when my three-going on four year old grandchild, Darius, visited from Michigan and came to California, we developed a ritual of reading at night. I'll never forget his words, "That was a good book."

This year, when I visited him in Detroit, it was a pleasure to see the light in Darius's eyes as he recognized colors and numbers in a book. This was especially exciting because I saw his love for reading grow.

My oldest son, Maurice, age 33, told me that he hated when I took them to the library, but now he does this very same thing with his preteen children, so he's hoping the seed will be planted as it was in his case. Now Reading is one of his favorite pastimes.

So I'd like to encourage African American writers to write more culturally relevant children books and readers to support more Black children writers.

Make use of your public libraries, which is a treasure trove of information, and a wonderful place to get free books for your children.

As parents are reving up for back to school, take time and invest in reading to your children.

1. Reading together builds your child's vocabulary.

2. Reading helps with your child's imagination.

3. Reading helps create memories your child will later cherish from his childhood.

4. Reading together is a spiritual endeavor like writing. You may be nurturing the mind of the next Toni Morrison.

5. You will see the return on the back end. As they say, "You pay now, (in terms of time invested with your children,) or you pay later." Just ask parents who were too busy working while their children were growing up, who now have to deal with these adult children's drama when they didn't get the lessons right the first time around.

Copyright 2005 Black Butterfly Press

About The Author
Dr. Maxine E. Thompson is the owner of the and Thompson's Literary Agency and Thompson Literary Services. She hosts shows for writers on and She is a story editor and a ghostwriter. You can sign up for her free newsletterat

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