My mother used to read to me every night, beginning when I was just a little baby. By the time I was four, I had my favorite books memorized and "read" them to my family. My Aunt Marian gave a set of children's classics books when I was in the fourth grade, and I remember reading those over and over until the pages started falling out.
Growing up in a small Southern town, there weren't a lot of opportunities to experience different cultures and places, so I relied on books to take me to different places and to teach me the importance of tolerance, patience, and diversity. The result: my creativity soared; my vocabulary soared; I learned how to accept people who didn't look like me or who didn't come from the same walk of life. Now, as an adult, I have a thirst for learning new things, and I know I have my mother and Aunt Marian to thank for cultivating the love of reading and learning in me. I'm not sure they know what an impact they've had on my life.
Now I'm a mother of a seven month old little girl, and since she was born, I've been reading to her. Already, she loves looking at the pictures and listening to me read in funny voices.
With TV, and video games, and computers, I believe we need to expose kids to words and let them create their own visuals instead of always having everything placed in front of them. We need to praise and applaud imagination and cultivate a thirst for learning and reading. Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I love my computer, and I love to watch TV, but as a parent, I feel that I must expose my daughter to all different types of media and give her the opportunity to create her own images of the worlds and characters she reads about. Plus, there's nothing like curling up with a good book on a rainy afternoon.