Help foster a love of reading by sharing book with littlest of readers

I remember the first time I read a book to my daughter. At the time, she was barely a few weeks old and swaddled tightly. I knew she wouldn't understand -- and she might have been snoozing at the time -- but I was so excited to read to her. I had looked forward to this moment for years.

But something strange happened once I started reading to her. I started to cry. Not only cry, but I became an emotional mess while reading Llama Llama Red Pajama. I couldn't even finish the book; I had to put it down. My tears and cracking voice caught me completely off-guard.

It wasn't the llama, or his needing of his mama, that caused the breakdown, it was that reading a book to my child was something I'd visualized all my life. This was that moment. My heart had been overwhelmed with a flood of the warm-fuzzies. With that experience, I realized just how special books were to me, as well as the hope I have for what books will mean to my daughter.

I'm happy to report that a few weeks later, I was able to make it through a book without a meltdown. Now, my daughter is almost two and loves books. In our proudest moment as parents, my husband and I discovered her "reading" one day. After a suspicious bout of silence came from her room, we peeked in to discover her not getting into mischief, but instead sitting in her rocking chair, quietly examining the pages of a book all by herself.

When I was young, my mom, sister and I regularly visited our local library. Upon arrival, we would jet off to our respective sections -- my sister to the paperbacks to grab gobs of teen mystery books, and my mom to the fiction collection to check out her favorite authors' books. I could be found in the children's section carrying as many R.L. Stine Goosebumps or Choose Your Own Adventure books that my arms could hold. As a child, the joy of selecting my own books was exhilarating. I felt like such an adult. My mom never limited how many books we borrowed. She knew we would read them.

No visit to the library was complete without also selecting a few movies. I remember the clunky VHS cases and the rattling sound they would make as we carried them. My sister and I probably borrowed the same movies over and over, but that's what kids do. After lugging our bounty back home, we would begin reading in each of our favorite cozy nooks, not to be heard from until it was time for dinner. (And who had time to think about food when the fate of my book's main character was in my hands.)

What great memories.

Nowadays, aside from the joy of selecting my next book to read, one of my favorite things to do is to visit the children's section of our library and pick out handfuls of board books for my daughter. I hope that she, too, grows up with the same love of libraries, reading and books. You're never too old to create happy memories at your library. Library cards are free to Beaufort County residents and property owners. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook.

Traci Cox is the information services coordinator at the Beaufort County Library.

Original story at the Island Packet