What a huge undertaking, to review a book written by a professional book reviewer!
But it needs to be said: of all the parenting books, this one needs to be gifted first.
In her book “The Enchanted Hour,” Meghan Cox Gurdon unveils the power of storytelling in scientific studies and tear-jerking examples. In a way that perfectly balances data and story, she leads the reader along a gentle reminder that the unseen force they remember from classrooms or their childhood is still very much alive.
I loved the studies that showed brain activity when stories were read aloud, vs when they were watched on TV.
I loved the studies that showed how complex language is, and the different dimensions of it that children capture when they get to read with an interested adult.
I cried reading the vignettes about parents reading to their NICU babies.
I ugly-cried reading the vignettes about children reading to their parents in the nursing home.
Gurdon’s book drives home that reading is a small act with giant consequences.
Reading this book, I had the following lightbulbs flash in my head:
Personally, I realized that while the calming effect of reading aloud helps our afternoons, I should reinstate our bedtime readings for its calming effect. As Gurdon writes, “A busy day of transactions – spooning cereal (and eating it), washing faces (and being washed), changing diapers (and being changed) – yields to a quiet time of mutual encounter” (Gurdon, 2019, p.69).
Also, I was struck that culturally, reading aloud with our children gets no special parental kudos; it does not lend itself easily to a social media post. Regardless of what camera filter you use, the cleanliness of your home, the achievements you hold dear… none of those matter when it’s just you, kids, and the book.
In fact, the only followers it will gain you are your kids. The magic words, “Gather ’round,” will up your follower count by the number of precious souls in the room.
If I were to proclaim it from the mountaintops, I would sound like this, “Hey! You won’t be seen or heard by anyone other than your kids and students! This is all the more reason to do it! They intuitively know this act is especially for them.”
And that is exactly why it is so sacred.
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