Earlier this week we were honored to have the Cincinnati Enquirer run a wonderful article on the Blue Manatee and our mission: to nurture children through authentic experiences away from the screen. Obviously, one such experience would be reading to or with a child.
The article (which can be seen by clicking here ) features a video of our own Sarah Jones discussing her popular ManaTots story time, as well as a bit of the history of how and why the Blue Manatee came to be. The short answer is that the theory behind the Blue Manatee was to continue to provide a space for young readers and their families to share and grow their enthusiasm for reading.
It is not a revolutionary idea that reading is an important part of a child’s development. But in our world of 24/7 access to all things digital, reading a book can sometimes come as an afterthought. Yet, I could not be more thankful to my parents for always reading to me as a child, and then fostering the means for my reading as I grew older. I am sure that there must have been times when my parents dreaded (at least just a little bit) walking into a bookstore with me. Such an event with me always takes no small amount of time, and I am incapable of leaving a bookstore without several new additions to my collection. Leaving with empty pockets–yes, but never empty handed.
Indeed, reading and books are such a significant part of who I am, that I can honestly not imagine who I would be without them–nor would I wish to. I am also certain that my ability to do well in school, as well as to continue to learn about the world around me, is largely connected to growing up in a home where reading was modeled and praised from the very beginning.
Aside from all of the cognitive and social benefits of reading with a child, it is just plain fun. I encourage all of you to make a pledge to read to and with your children on a daily basis. I don’t think anyone could say it better than the poet Strickland Gillian in his poem The Reading Mother, when he writes,
“Richer than I you can never be–
I had a mother who read to me.”