Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

We’ve all heard about how good it is to read aloud to our children, and the many ways it benefits them. Kids can gain oral language skills, new vocabulary, familiarity with foreign worlds, and the undivided time and attention of an adult through storytime. But moms and dads can experience powerful and lasting benefits, too, when they commit to and revel in reading with kids.

Here are five parents’ reflections on the fresh perspectives, fond memories, and cherished connections they gained through family reading:

A minute spent reading to your kids now will repay itself a million-fold later not only because they love you for reading to them, but also because, years later, when they’re miles away, those quiet evenings when you were tucked in with them, everything quiet but the sound of the page-turns, will seem to you, I promise, sacred.

George Saunders

On days when I’ve felt as though I have nothing left to give to my kids, I’ve been able to sit next to them and open a book. We start reading, and the world looks different.

Maria Russo

Reading aloud is a restorative that can replenish what technology leaches away. Where the screen tends to separate family members by sending each into his own private virtual reality, reading together draws people closer and unites them.

Meghan Cox Gurdon

One of the unsung but cozy effects of reading aloud is the private language that develops in families through shared book experience. Chloe and I went on a picnic once when she was six, and she asked—even before we’d unpacked the basket—what we were having for ‘afters.’ I told her there was more sensible food to be eaten before ‘afters’ could even be considered.

‘Well, one must sustain oneself,’ she said, in a six-year-old huff.

The phrase had come directly from Winnie-the-Pooh. Over time it became one of the standard sayings in our family, especially when my husband, Malcolm had eaten all the chocolate in the house.

‘Well, one must sustain oneself,’ he would say, with a guilty look.

We were knitted into the same familial fabric by a book language that meant nothing to people outside our immediate little trio. It was a private ‘togetherness’ code that connected us all.

Mem Fox

I refrain from kissing the top of his head again and try not to think that this moment of my youngest child beside me, the two of us inside one story, won’t always be here. This now is what matters, young reader. The moment we’re all living in is what counts—how will this moment, and the stories we’re living inside of change us … forever? The smell of my son’s hair, his laughter, his whispered ‘Oh man!’ And now, him saying softly ‘That’s not kindness, right Mommy?’ This is what reading does. This is what matters most. I smile and turn the page.

Jacqueline Woodson

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