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She Still Needs Us

2014 October 24


For the past year or so, I have taken tremendous pride in Little D’s passion for books.

You’ve heard about it in this little space. My friends and family know all about it. Our local librarian has practically become a family member. Complete strangers at Barnes & Noble are all over it.

I love that she has taken a deep dive into the world of literature. She reads with passion, with hunger. Her eyes scan the pages faster than mine on many days and my house is littered with dog eared chapter books in virtually every corner.

We’ve done a good job, we told ourselves. We can check one very important parenting milestone right off the checklist, we thought.

And we inadvertently did.

We stopped reading to our daughter.

She read to herself so much there was hardly a moment left to fill. We shipped her off to bed every night with a pile of chapter books stacked high on her little nightstand, and let her read them all to herself. We thought we had done such a great job in parenting that we were being relieved of one duty so we could move onto the next.

She could read to herself so why would we continue to read to her?

Yesterday, I had her parent teacher conference and her teachers gushed about her. Exceptional. Bright. Well-adjusted. Healthy. Only some of the words they used to describe my curious, excited, passionate little girl.

The topic of reading came up and her teacher said what we already knew: voracious, advanced, everything you want to hear.

And then this:

“Are you reading to her every day?”

“Well, no,” I explained. And went on to give all the reasons in the world why.

“Oh no, you need to keep reading to her,” she insisted. “You’re the reason she’s the reader she is. You need to let her hear your voice, how you pronounce words, how you create emotion in the words you read. You need to share your favorite stories with her, you need to introduce her to your favorite characters, you need to create those memories and moments with her over a book.”

“She still needs you.” 

She still needs us.

Of course she still needs us.

But not just for the next milestones or for the goals of tomorrow or the promises of the future.

She needs us for yesterday as well. For the things we’ve taught her and the things we are still teaching her…even when we think she can teach herself. When we think they are growing and maturing and evolving beyond us. When they don’t think they need us. When they don’t want us.

They still need us.

So last night, I let Little D read for a little while on her own after dinner and then I cut it short and told her I was going to read to her for a bit. Her whole face lit up. We chose a book off her shelf that she hadn’t taken on yet herself. We curled up on the couch, her long limbs intertwined around mine, her  head resting firmly on my shoulder.

And I read to her.

I let her hear my voice and how I pronounce my words. I told her about the characters, asking her questions along the way. I let her sense my emotion and enjoy one of my very favorite stories.

I let her need me.

And it gave me – and her – tremendous pride.

*image above of my little bookworm taking a reading break in the middle of Manhattan. 

13 Responses
  1. October 24, 2014

    This is such an important, exquisite piece on so many levels. Thank you for sharing, and reminding us how important our connections are.

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 25, 2014

      Thank you for the lovely words, Nancy. So appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  2. elizabeth permalink
    October 24, 2014

    Good to know! I didn’t even think about it effecting them, but I can see it does and it makes sense.

    Another adorable post..

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 25, 2014

      Thanks, Liz! 🙂

  3. Karsha permalink
    October 24, 2014

    I was totally wondering about that! Was thinking I’d be off the hook soon. Your post is giving me a better attitude about taking the time to read to her. Thanks so much for the share, Raluca!

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 25, 2014

      I think we all need a reminder sometimes, right? These moments will be gone so quickly, we really need to hold onto them where we can…thanks, friend.

  4. October 24, 2014

    This is definitely something I will remember once our little guy becomes not so little anymore. Thank you for sharing. Very well written piece.

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 25, 2014

      Thank you, Einat! Appreciate your kind words!

  5. October 24, 2014

    I, too, am the mother of a very voracious reader – also right here in sunny San Diego – and am grateful to have maintained our nightly reading ritual. He’s eleven now, and we’ve explored lots of great literature together, yet somehow we always find our way back to our trusty Grimm’s collection. As our children grow more independent, it becomes increasingly important to connect to them in meaningful ways and reading has always been one of our favorite ways to spend time together. Your child’s teacher was right – it is because of you that she reads, and it is because of you that she will continue to do so. And you were right – it is when they think they don’t need us, or even don’t want us, that they need us the most. I always love your honesty. Thanks for sharing!

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 25, 2014

      Thanks, Lynzie! Appreciate your kind words and love to hear that even at 11, the ritual is still very much alive. Love that. xx

  6. Mary Hayes permalink
    October 24, 2014

    whyyyyy did this make me cry?? I have a 5 month old. She LOVES to be read to. I love reading to her. I hope she loves it forever!

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 25, 2014

      Aw, sorry for the tears! Hope they were happy ones 😉

  7. October 31, 2014

    What a powerful post! Well done for helping your daughter find passion and for staying present in her life!!! I often at night get rushed about getting my 3 year old to bed, and speed reading through the books she picked out for that evening because all I can think of is the stuff that needs to be done yet, and this was such a good reminder to slow down, and really get involved in reading so she can “hear” my voice!!!! Thank you!!!!

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