Instilling the Love of Reading
Everyone has a different journey when it comes to reading. Brittany’s journey began with her father. Every night the two would take turns reading a page out of a book. My journey began with my TVI in elementary school. She required every student to read a book switching back and forth from listening to a book on tape or reading a book in Braille.
When my daughter Braylee came to live with Brittany and me, we knew we wanted to make reading a priority in her life.
Both of us were students at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Actually, that is where we first met and ironically, we hated each other. How we ended up engaged is a different story for another day. At CCB, every single staff member constantly reinforces the importance of Braille by reminding you the joy that literacy can bring, as well as the employment opportunities. It is a well-known fact that the blind suffer from a large unemployment rate and those who are literate in Braille have a significantly higher chance at gaining employment. That is why Brittany and I wanted my daughter Braylee to be as proficient as possible in Braille.
We knew we had to get her as much Braille as possible. Brittany has worked very hard to get all of her books labeled in Braille. We take advantage of the book fair at national convention and the free books offered by Seedlings. Additionally, we signed her up through our local library for the blind to get Braylee two new books every week. We wanted her to be able to experience reading like any other sighted child. If a sighted child can go in their room to pick up a book then Braylee should have that same opportunity. We knew that we could not develop the love of reading if that opportunity was not available to her.
However, the love of reading is not just picking up a book and reading a story. Braylee every night goes to her library and chooses a book. When she finds one that she especially likes, Brittany and I find ourselves reading that same book for weeks on end. As tired as we may get of reading the same book, it is such an indescribable feeling of pride to see her take the book from us and run her fingers across the page and pretend to read the story to us. Sometimes she even takes that book and comes up with a completely different story using the pictures in the book.
We also have found that reading has helped Braylee cope with changes in her life. Braylee has a half-sister that lives in Georgia. When she is having a rough day and really missing her, her favorite book to read is titled Precious Sleepy Head. One particular picture within the book is of a girl that Braylee swears is her sister. As a parent you know that you can’t take pain from your child’s heart but what you can do is provide them mechanisms to cope with the pain. Sometimes all you need are simple words and a familiar illustration.
Reading with your child is whatever you make of it. Books offer a whole other world for a child to enter. There are all kinds of books that allow your child to grow their imagination. Additionally, books can help your child express themselves in a way that they can’t otherwise. In a society of technology, we often forget that those archaic piles of paper offer us so much. On this Read Across America Day we hope that a book can offer you what they have offered our family.
—Garret Mooney and Brittany Bomboy