PennyLynn Webb

PennyLynn Webb

When my children were growing up, I never said “no” to a book.

If we were grocery shopping in Walmart, and they came across a book they wanted, I would find a way to get it – even if they had to wait until my next paycheck.

I would save or spend a chunk of my paycheck on books at the school book fair. It was one place I let my boys go wild. “Get what you want,” I said, and meant it.

My boys are now 15 and 19, but I haven't changed. If they ask me for a book, they get it.

Reading is everything.

It broadens vocabulary, deepens comprehension, sharpens critical thinking skills, and expands horizons. It improves writing skills, develops focus and concentration, matures emotions, and raises IQ.

Yeah, books can get expensive, but they are worth it. There were times I went without new clothes, shoes, or a pedicure, so that they could have a book. Nothing could beat the priceless look of wonder on their faces as they read that book and told me about it.

It's harder to foster a love of reading in boys. (I'm just being real here.) With boys, a love of reading usually has to be cultivated at a young age.

I began reading to my boys when they were babies.

I bought books they could chew on; books for the bathtub; books they could grow with.

Reading wasn’t a chore; it was fun.

If you asked my oldest son to pick his favorite book I read to him, he would most likely say, “The Napping House.” I read it with fun voices and snoring sounds.

(I wouldn’t ask my youngest son, though. He's at that age where you just feed and water them, like a cat, and hope they don’t hiss at you.)

We read books together at night until they could read on their own. Both my boys loved all of the Snowmen at Night Books. I bought every one that came out, and I will most likely continue. I want to read them to my grandchildren.

I never tried to dictate what books my boys added to their own shelves. I let them develop their own interests and feed their own curiosities.

Wyatt, my oldest son, typically wanted books about science and history. In elementary school, he read every “Magic Treehouse” book out there. He also loved Harry Potter, Narnia, the Lemony Snicket series, and every fact book that came out by “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

Today, in college, he's still reading. He loves books about mythology, biology, virology, forensics, and the magical world of Harry Potter.

In his early years, Walker, my youngest son, wanted Captain Underpants, The Fly Guy, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Those eventually gave way to history books about World War I and II. Now he reads a mix of the classics and crime novels – and whatever else sparks his interest.

Because they read, my kids have accumulated a vast knowledge of history, pop culture, and science.

Book lists from both boys are already on my Christmas shopping list.

I urge you to consider adding books to your shopping list. The next time you're looking for a birthday gift, try a gift card to a book store.

And the next time your children ask for a book, don't hesitate: Just buy it.

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