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Challenge: Life Changes

How Being a Parent Changed Reading for Me

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This article was written by Jennifer Ridgway for Brightly (

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. The first book that I can distinctly recall “reading” is There's a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss. I can picture myself sitting in my grandparents’ house, flipping through it, the illustrations still as clear in my mind as if I were looking at it right now. I was an only child, and books were always one of my favorite sources of entertainment. My mom took me to the library to check out stacks at a time. I asked for gift certificates to Waldenbooks or B. Dalton for birthdays and Christmas. For me, one of the best gifts was, and still is, a book.

Reading has always been a solitary experience for me, perhaps one of the (many) reasons I enjoy it so much. I am an introvert by nature, and I value my alone time and my quiet time — growing up, reading afforded me both. I could sit anywhere with my newest The Baby-Sitter's Club book and read. Kristi and Dawn and the gang were like imaginary friends but better. The Secret Garden allowed me to travel to a beautiful, foreign place in my mind while I was safely tucked in my bed at home. Sweet Valley High allowed me to pretend I had a sister.


As I grew older, reading continued to be an escape from the noise and chaos of everyday life. It probably isn’t a coincidence that my reading picked up when I moved to New York; the retreat from noise and people was more needed. But I also learned how to get that escape while in the middle of what I was escaping from — my commute on the subway (no matter how crowded) was prime reading time.

As with much of my life pre-parenthood, my relationship with books and reading has changed since having my twins. There is very little that I get to do alone now, including reading. And since I made the decision to stay home with them, the amount of time I have to read has decreased dramatically. Reading is no longer a solitary experience. More often than not it is done in the presence of my children, whether I am reading to them, they are watching me read, or I’m reading while they are sleeping next to me.

But that’s okay. Now I get to share something that has brought me so much happiness throughout the years with my children. I want them to see me reading so that it seems like a normal part of life. I love that they sit on my lap while we look at a new book or read one of their favorites for the hundredth time ­— because a love of reading and books is something to be shared and cherished.

They are at such an amazing age of discovery, too; they show me everything on the page and ask me what it is if they don’t know. They also will sit together and “read” books to each other. I’ll be honest, I get a little teary-eyed when I hear them. I can’t wait to experience some of my childhood favorites with them and discover the new books we’ll all come to treasure. I look forward reading them all out loud, cuddled up on the couch, together.

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