Read To Me—Again

Do you re-read books? I’ll bet you do.  Maybe not Marguerite Young’s Miss Macintosh, My Darling (a mere 1,198 pages!) but, if a child you spend any time with has a favorite picture book, I’ll bet you can recite the text, unprompted, with the inflexion and flow of a professional audible book artist.

The mother of our two year old grandson recently entertained him, his grandfather and me with a wonderful recitation of Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo as we waited in the car for her husband to return from the grocery store.  “A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good…” Each time she spoke the key repeated phrase describing the Gruffalo, “with terrible tusks, and terrible claws, terrible teeth and terrible jaws,” my grandson would raise his arms in the air and make bear-like clawing motions. Our other daughters have done the similar things, sometimes singing the words from favorite board books. Our entire family knows Baby Beluga, illustrated by Ashley Wolf with the catchy tune composed by Raffi, and we are not alone.

The words, pictures and songs of childhood books, especially when used together, are powerful memory makers. Look at some of the comments made by people after hearing Baby Beluga again:

“Hearing this song again, after 15 years of not remembering it, is making me cry… it still makes me really happy.”

“This song is part of my childhood. I remember my parents singing this to me when I was a baby. In fact this is one of the only things I remember from that time.”

That last comment—“this is one of the only things I remember from that time,” is truly remarkable. It affirms the medical findings that the areas of our brain where language and music are stored have a connection with memory so powerful that, when played during physical therapy sessions, can actually help people remember how to walk again.

The words of Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” take on even more profound meaning as we recognize the impact memorized words of scripture can have in the life of a child. When the pages of books with colorful illustrations depicting place, time and characters are combined with words read and re-read, we can create memories they may one day say are, “the only things I remember from that time.”

As beloved as the books of our childhood may be, they cannot compare to the value of the stories from God’s Word that are, “… living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even as far as the division of soul and spirit…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

While it is true that “books are friends”, let’s remember to keep both Goliath and The Gruffalo in the minds of our children.

Click to hear Baby Beluga

Click here to see The Official Gruffalo Trailer

Click here for tDavid & Goliath – the whole story

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Penny L. Hunt

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