One of my parental pleasures was reading to my sons before bedtime. Our evening ritual continued well after they were able to read for themselves. I chose books that were a little above their reading level to stretch their imagination and vocabulary. That was fun for me and stimulating for them.
One summer, during our extended family beach vacation, we included my five nieces and read “Treasure Island” during the week. We had the perfect arrangement in our rented house that year – a bedroom with three sets of bunk beds. We slept six kids in there – all of them except for the youngest little girl. And she was still old enough to hear pirate adventure stories when all the day’s activities were done and it was time to settle down for the night.
The youngsters were enthralled by the adventures of Jim Hawkins and the treasure hunters, the conniving of Long John Silver and his crew of rascals, and the search for hidden riches. After each evening’s chapters, visions of sailing ships and distant islands carried them off to sleep.
By day, they began to act out the story, pretending to be pirates or sea captains contending for buried silver, gold and jewels. They sent their mothers to nearby beach shops searching for eye patches and swords and other buccaneers’ gear. It became the year we turned Topsail Island into Treasure Island.
A great story has the power to create an authentic experience for creative listeners. Sharing books with children, by reading to or with them, is to accompany them on voyages of discovery where the treasure is always found.
This guest blog post is by N&R columnist and blog author Doug Clark.