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Why I read to my kids.

dustin reading I’m a reader. An old-fashioned reader. The one who loves coffee-stained paper pages that sometimes beg you to lick your fingers to turn them . I “get" the convenience of Kindles and iPad reads, and they really make sense on a flight to Dubai when your carry-on doesn’t want to weigh 50 pounds. But there’s one place I’ll not substitute the blue haze of a digital screen, and that’s when I read aloud to my kids (or grandkids in my case). I like to open the big pages of a picture book with much aplomb, dramatically tracing the title letters with a flourish and undoubtedly employing an otherworldly accent or two. Sandwiched between giggles and snuggled under plush throws, reading aloud to children holds its own magical spell. For one of my baby showers 30 years ago, a friend gave me a book called The Read Aloud Handbook. I got to hear the author, Jim Trelease, speak several times and I became by all counts, a devotee. And so read aloud, I did. Climbing up onto our Four Poster Bed, my kids and I gobbled up Shel Silverstein and old Nancy Drew and naturally, a closet full of Dr. Seuss and his Green Eggs and Ham. Our Nana and Papa from Scotland sent us Enid Blyton books like The Magic Faraway Tree and I used to say, in a husky voice that I imagined would’ve belonged to a bespeckled walrus, “Always enunciate and read…with expression!” A Trelease favorite, Where the Red Fern Grows, was also one of mine. No matter how many times I read the demise of Old Dan, I sobbed just as hard. Trelease, apparently, did too. When asked if that was a good thing, he shared his belief that children come into this life knowing intrinsically how to cry for themselves, but they must learn how to cry for others. Stories can do that. And you can do that, through these stories. Whether it’s my memories of Red Fern’s classic heartache or the “curiouser and curiouser” of Alice in Wonderland, I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Annie Lawson