This is the story behind the seed of Weave Sunshine’s picture booklists and the whole-hearted belief that reading aloud provides an unshakable foundation for your child to flourish and your bond to deepen.
Hello fellow travelers on this journey called life! Today, I am sharing where the seed came from that has grown into who I am. What I am offering you and your children through Weave Sunshine comes from my belief that the reading aloud of good books is one of the most beautiful, firm foundations you can offer a new soul coming into this world, the little one in your care. Reading books aloud together not only builds a firm foundation for them, so that they can flourish, wonder and learn what they like and don't like, but it creates a foundation for the two of you or your family, whatever that looks like, whoever that is. This can also be expanded to older generations – all ages enjoy a good book read aloud.
When I was little, I was read to by my mom who has the most wonderful book collection. Many of them, her mom and grandmother (see photo below) used to read to her. I was read to from these books that were printed in the 1800s: Hans Christian Andersen's Stories for the Household, The Aesop for Children, Fairy Tales That Never Grow Old and more. These beautiful books, I still own and have prominently displayed on my bookshelves because they have become friends. They bring such joy to me, even their physical presence (photos below).
I have memories of my mom reading to me James Whitcomb Riley and Robert Louis Stevenson- amazing children's poets, and I blossomed. I had all of the Mother Goose rhymes memorized by the time I was two years old. I could recite them with facility. I could recite all of Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. I’m sure it had to do with the fact that I requested the same poems over and over again!
I share this so that you if you were not read to as a child, that you fully understand the opportunity you hold to do this with your child, grandchild, somebody you're caring for. This is a great gift you can give to and share with a special someone. Maybe it is somebody in your care who is a lot older. This can be a blessing for those experiencing dementia as long term memory is there. This is still something that will resonate with them.
When I was little, I was read to at nap time. My brother was born when I was barely four years old, my reading time was shifted to bedtime and my dad took over (photo below). He would read me the Value Tales collection, which were these wonderful biographies with cartoon illustrations. The main characters all had imaginary friends that helped them along on their journeys to greatness and changing the world. Jackie Robinson, for instance, had an imaginary friend who was a baseball bat. I loved that all of these amazing humans who came to this earth to teach humanity these powerful lessons were in these books in cartoon form! Their stories were being told and absorbed by me in a way that engaged my imagination and were relatable. I have such special memories of my time with my dad, reading those stories to me.
As we got older and school began, there was not as much time to read books of my choosing books. I would still read my special book to my dolls, guinea pigs, turtles, stuffed animals, etc. However, as I advanced through the grades, there was less time for that and that's okay. There were books I had to read and I didn't always feel as excited about reading those as I would have something else. This transition caused us to change the way my family shared stories.
My family became more creative with how we read aloud together. We would go on road trips and my mom would read books aloud so the whole family could hear these beautiful stories, now in chapter book form. This continued through most of high school. It was something that we did together as a family.
Fast forward quite a few years: my daughter was born over 15 years ago. Within the first few months, I learned about the ability to request books from the library online. This quickly became an obsession that I MAY not have grown out of yet. I actually don’t think I ever will! Anyway, it became a passion. I could not get my hands on enough booklists!
My mom went to college to be a teacher in Boston, where her mom did the same. Between the 2 of them, they collected so many glorious books and booklists, books about all the many benefits of reading aloud to children, and more. I read these books and booklists and man, I was highlighting, I was requesting and then reading these books to my little girl almost as soon as she was born!
A few years later, my little guy was born and this tradition continued. When we began formally homeschooling I used these and new picture books to ultimately create my own homeschooling curriculum. I successfully did this all the way through 8th grade. I based the curriculum I created on trips our family was taking, sites we were going to be seeing, what my children were interested in, as well as the standard topics. I was able to use these picture books to educate my children in a way that was relevant and real. This was a living education; it wasn't dry or unstimulating.
Again, I share this so you can understand the potential, the life and foundation that can be created and the bond that can be formed between you and your little ones. Everyone likes a story. Everyone likes to be read to. There are stories that can speak to everyone and every situation.
Consider creating a “library day” with your little ones that you all can make special and look forward to each week. My daughter used to get dressed up for “library day”!
As you begin requesting and reading books, I encourage you to check out piles of books. Plop yourself down on the couch, the bed, the floor or head to the treehouse or special place outside. Sit on the trampoline, a park bench, a patch of grass and read them all. Say “yes”, say “yes” to reading the same book again and again and again and again. If you or your little one loves the book that much, consider buying it. You can buy it used. We would get them from the library and when we read it enough, I knew it was time to buy it- after, you know, the 25th time of reading it over two weeks!
So this is one part of my story of the seed that grew into my passion for books and sharing stories aloud as a means to process emotions, connect, ground, grow, expand, add magic, wonder, curiosity, conversation, light-heartedness, giggles- you name it- there’s a book for that! This is how I got to where I am today.
I am offering Monthly Booklists to connect your children to the glory, joy and wonder of all the natural world. It's so important to find books that are about the season you’re in. It grounds our children, makes them feel safe, held, powerful and free to imagine, wonder and just be. You can look for books that include the holidays of the season you’re in. We just celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There are some powerful civil rights picture books available. I have found that many of the picture book biographies are not just written for small children. While little ones can listen and the illustrations are beautiful, the depth of the messages that many of these picture books hold is remarkable. I encourage you to get books about January when you're in January and so on. Have books on hand that you can display and have out in a basket for your children to pick up and peruse any time.
The monthly booklists I have created (and will continue to add to and update) have some of my family’s favorites as well as “the latest” gems. I have even included a few books from my parents’ generation and beyond. If you can get your hands on them, they can be so nostalgic or it could be a great lesson in how societal roles, traditions, etc. have changed through the years. I included books that I loved growing up, books that my children adored and we still have on our shelf and will never get rid of. I have looked through and actually put my hands on each of these books on my lists and I say they're worth a read.
Get yourself a library card if you don’t already have one. It doesn't cost a thing. Clear off a bookshelf. Set out a beautiful basket for your books. If you don't have that, stick the books in a plastic laundry basket or put them in a pile on the floor. Do whatever is necessary to get books into your home, into your hands, the hands of your little ones and into your relationship with your loved ones.
This is a tradition and way of life that can continue until your children leave home. I still read with my children. It's getting harder. We have to get creative since after many years of homeschooling, they are in school this year. We listen to audiobooks in the car or sneak a chapter or two in before bed.
I encourage you from my heart to yours, from somebody who has experienced the blessing of reading aloud, start today. Start building that firm foundation, deep connection, experience the magic, the opening of conversations where maybe there wasn't an opening before.
Reading aloud opens opportunities to help process emotions. There are so many places books can enrich your life and strengthen your relationships. Check out my booklists on this site for ideas. Go to your local library and check out a big pile, read them all aloud together, then go back the next week and do it all over again!
Snuggle up, get a cup of coffee, tea, cocoa, grab some cookies and milk. Maybe it's hot outside and you have lemonade instead. Just make this time reading with your children special. Your children will never ever forget. You will never forget. You are creating an unshakable foundation that nothing and nobody can ever take away from you.
Now, I won’t keep you any longer so you can go grab a good book and someone special!
Blessings from a bookworm.....
I'm so thankful for the blessing and tradition of generations reading aloud in my family. My wish is that you, your little ones and the whole world can experience this same joy, healing, magic and connection.
The below photo is of my great grandmother (who brought many of these beautiful books into our family) reading to my grandmother and great uncle. This would have been around 1919-1920.
Here I am reading to my beloved doll, Thumbelina. It was my calm among the busyness and chaos of moving into our Central Ave. home in Nashville (1981).
Here my dad and I are, engaging in our bedtime ritual of reading aloud.
These are some of the "friends" I mentioned, that are displayed on my shelves at home. The same ones read by generations before.
Here are my "little ones"- George and Hattie, sharing a story with their "Tonton" (great uncle). His mom was the little girl in photo at the top (1919).