My mother’s attic is on par with Mikey’s attic in the movie “Goonies.”
As teenagers, my friends and I searched it endlessly, certain we would come across a lost treasure map. Alas, that never happened.
The treasures that attic keeps are far more valuable, though — they are the treasures of childhood. So, traipsing through this cornucopia of memories with my 10-year-old daughter the other day, I was delighted to find one of my favorites treasures with her, the book “Bug City” by Dahlov Ipcar, copyright 1975 (boy that ages me!).
The citizens of Bug City are all bugs (obviously), they sleep on bedbugs, make their clothes out of silk moths and cook over a firefly. It was full of color and absolutely fascinating for my young mind.
To think, bugs have their very own little suburban life! Mind blown.
It was a concept that I hadn’t considered until then, and now many many … gulp … many years later I was excited to share it with my own child.
We all dream of leaving valuable items to our children when we pass on, but it’s so much more delightful when we can share a bit of ourselves with them today.
There was a magical connection that happened when we read through the old book together. It was as if my 6-year-old self and my daughter’s 10-year-old self were meeting for the first time.
She could look at me and see a human being, not just the parent who works all the time and makes her suffer through boring life-lesson lectures.
Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of fun at our house with dancing to YouTube videos, cooking meals together and quoting lines from Spongebob Squarepants. While all of these experiences are fun and considered that ever so valuable “quality time,” there’s something very special about sharing a book.
Even if it’s a simple picture book where bugs are personified — living in their own city, shopping for groceries like asparagus beetles and going to the zoo to look at leopard moths — it’s still as special an experience as reading a classic like “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle.
Look, I can drone on and on about statistics, telling you that having your kid read for 20 minutes every night will make them smarter, knowledge is power and the best knowledge is found in books … so on and so forth. But I think we are all very well aware of this by now.
What I really want to tell you is that books don’t just educate, they bring happiness. And fiction can be loads of fun.
When a person who comes into the library confesses that they’re really not big readers, the first words out of my mouth are always, “You just haven’t found the right book yet.” And after a few simple questions I find them something enjoyable to read, they do, and end up coming back for more.
The same can be said for children. And childhood is really where we have to start an early intervention to teach them that reading can be fun.
So, while you’re finding them educational books to read for those 20 minutes, find something fun, too.
What are they interested in? Do they like frogs? Do they sing silly songs a lot? Are they into Legos or Spiderman?
You wouldn’t believe the huge variety of books that are out there now, and let me tell you, they are so much fun to read.
I wholeheartedly admit that even though my daughter is past the picture book age, when a fun one comes into the library I totally read it. I honestly enjoy reading her juvenile books too.
We had a lot of entertainment with the “The Sisters 8” series by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and all the “what if” questions each book lead to.
The moral of this story? Well, the holiday season is upon us and while you’re trying to squeeze in the Festival of Lights, decorating your house like Clark Griswold and running to rehearsals for the Murphy Christmas Show, don’t forget to chill out with your kid for some light-hearted reading.
Now that’s “quality time.”
Kat McKay is the manager of the Clinton-Massie Branch of the Wilmington Public Library in Clarksville. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.