Gift Five: Re-gifted Reading

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Have you ever picked up a game that you haven’t played for a long time and it was like a new game?  It was so fun and you couldn’t believe how well you played it.  In fact, you won!

Have you ever hopped on a bike, a scooter, a pogo stick, laced up a pair of skates (after years of not using these) and managed to stay on it/them and not fall or provide an “America’s Funniest Video” for a future show? What feeling of euphoria!  “Oldie-Smoldie!” you said sarcastically with a puffed up sense of self.


Or have you ever picked up a book you haven’t read in a long time, perhaps since childhood, and it was like reading it for the first time, but better? You savored the pictures, the characters, your mind began to recall the next page and the next page.  And after reading it, you placed it somewhere prominent, somewhere special, where you could find it again.  And you made a mental list of those that needed to hear this story. “Perhaps, I’ll read it aloud to them,” you mused.

Those experiences I described are the profound wonder of stored memories. I call this last one that I described, the experience of “re-gifted reading”!  What you received was the pleasure of rediscovering a story you held special… sacred. I’ve done this many times with my own children.  I have joyed over my children’s delight in reading Dr. Seuss, The Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And the list could go on and on and, no doubt, you are thinking of several more that rest on your list of “worth reading again!”

How to Re-Gift Reading…

I love to encourage parents to read to their children.  Now, I know at a certain age, we require children to spend so many moments reading aloud and then it’s reading silently.  However, I love what happens when parents read to their children.  Besides the time spent away from electronic devices, a parent and child are spending time together, using their imaginations and communicating… together. All of this provides a positive memory—one that will carry forward into their adult lives when they are parents.

When is a child too old to be read to?  NEVER!  Did you hear that?  NEVER.  That’s what long-time reading specialist, Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook ( advocates. He encourages us to catch those teens at the dinner table or while they’re doing dishes and can’t escape. It doesn’t have to be from a book, but from places of common interest. They’ll probably never tell you they love it (that would be so not cool), but they do!

What about college age? Read to a young adult.  Keep reading. The great thing about reading to a college person (even if it’s some story article you copied from a website) is the adult feedback because it’s cool to be cool to mom and dad again. Give them true stories out of the news sites… the ones that wreak of “No way, that could not have happened!”  They love those. Young adults are more tuned in to reading than we give them credit for. I never tire of seeing young adults at my story events.  They are some of the most intense listeners. I love them!

Re-gift Reading… How can we do some of this in the new year?

  • Buy that children’s book for that big young adult loved years ago. Stick it in their backpack or suitcase before they head back to school or their apartment.
  • Save your children’s favorite books no matter what condition they are in after years of wear and tear. They’ll be so glad you did this… later on, of course.
  • Take a book down from the shelf and start reading together as a family. In fact, pick one night a week where you turn off the TV and read.  You can roll back time and read by candlelight and kerosene lamp. After a certain amount of reading time, come together and read aloud certain favored passages OR choose a book you all want to read together.
  •  When your children have children, buy books they loved as children. It doesn’t matter if the books are those board book versions or chapter books for later on when they’re bigger.
  • Give a children’s book or favorite book to an adult friend. Books are great gifts.  Tell them, “I’d like us to read this book together… I bought a copy for me, too.” What—adults reading to one another?!  Why not!  And this can all happen on a phone.
  • LIBRARIES!  The best re-gifted reading place I know. Do your children have library cards? They really should.  Take the time to get them one.
  • Support local storytellers, poetry readings, coffee-house or bookstore events where authors read from their books. Get their autographs, too.

One of my earliest reading memories is of my big sister reading to my twin brother and I as we sat in our crib.  She had a big book (or so it seemed) and she “read” with such meaning.  I say “read” because she was only three years older than us.  Oh, how I wish I had that book my sister read from.  I still look for it… I sure would love to re-gift it for my sister. Thank you, Margie, for reading to me…

Our next gift in “The Seven Gifts of Story is Gift Six: The Validation of Our Story”. Till then may the story you live out today change someone, I know it can…


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