The Reading Mother

Apr 25, 2019 | Posted by Jennifer


As Mother’s Day draws near, I can’t help but remember and reflect on my mothering years. My days of parenting babies and toddlers are far behind me now. With children in college, I am likely closer to cuddling grandchildren than I am my own young ones. Still, there are certain memories that rush back to me that are so sweet and strong and precious that I feel as if it were just yesterday I was experiencing them. Simply closing my eyes, I can easily recall the heady scent of the blooming jasmine at our tiny neighborhood park where my children learned to swing. I can practically taste the home-cooked sweet potato puree that was my eldest’s favorite baby food. And even today, I can sing all of the verses to my children’s favorite lullabies. But the memory that is perhaps the strongest of all is how I felt, snuggled with my baby in his fuzzy sleeper heavy on my lap, sequestered and quiet in my glider as I read story after story before bedtime.

Each of my children had his or her favorite stories. My eldest loved all things Margaret Wise Brown, including The Big Red Barn and Goodnight Moon. My middle little fellow absolutely loved anything written by Leo Leonni. And my daughter? For her it was all about animals. She adored one in particular: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. I read it to her over and over again, night after night. My memories are sweet. But they are not just my memories alone, for I share them with my children. While they may not recall the days of diapers and onesies and colic, they have many happy memories of all of us cuddling on the couch while I read aloud to them. Together we enjoyed hours of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Many of the books I read were new for all of us, including A Door in the Wall, The Bronze Bow, and Johnny Tremain. My children fell in love with words and story as I read, and I cherished every second of it. Each night, books transported us on wonderful journeys together.

Reading aloud to children, even when they are very young, creates lasting benefits. By prioritizing a regular routine of reading aloud, parent and child strengthen their emotional connections. Reading aloud fosters a sense of trust and closeness. It carves out a portion of the busy day that centers on the participants and the story and quiets the noise of chores, work, and worries. It’s a sacred time. Nestling together in a comfortable chair with a stack of books begging to be read is a wonderful way to savor the impermanence of childhood and celebrate the special bond between parent and child. Children grow very quickly. Carving out regular time to read aloud offers a way to slow down the clock somewhat and be mindful of how quickly children change.

Reading aloud doesn’t just help children emotionally, it helps them academically as well. Listening to a loved parent read nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and stories implants sophisticated sentence structures, rhyme, and vocabulary into the child’s mind. And repeating those much-loved stories assures that those roots will grow deep. In addition to introducing the child to the various preliteracy elements of words and sentence construction, reading aloud introduces the child to the concepts of morality and theme. Even very young children can listen to mom or dad read The Tale of Peter Rabbit and then talk about the consequences of Peter’s choices. Should Peter have listened to his mom? Why would his mom want him to stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden? Does she just want to keep him from his play, or does she really care for him and want him to stay safe? All of these skills will reap benefits later on when the child begins a more formal education program.

A few years ago, Andrew Pudewa discovered a beautiful poem called “The Reading Mother.” Composed by Strickland Gillilan, it is a beautiful testimony to the power of a mother who reads to her child. Enjoy Andrew’s recitation of the poem in this video:



The best journeys of my life have been the ones taken between the pages of an open book with a child at my side or on my lap. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Night after night, mothers and children cuddle close together with a pile of books nearby. If you are a mother to young children, enjoy the journey. The time flies! Take some time out of your busy day, pull out a favorite story, and draw your children close. You and your children will be blessed in these special moments spent together. And from all of us at IEW, happy Mother’s Day!



Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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