Wednesday, September 17, 2014

20 minutes a day

I used to get annoyed by my kids bringing home baggie books every.single.night.  Trying to find the time to sit and listen to four kids each read me a book was a lot. Sometimes, I'm not going to lie, I'd sign off on my  two older sons because they can read a 300 page book in a day- I was not worried about them.  Then, my third son came along.  It's been a journey getting him to love reading.

This year, I vowed to commit to sitting with him for 20 minutes a day while he reads to me.  I vowed that no matter what, I would listen to him read.  I make a point to stop what I'm doing and sit and listen, even if it means dinner will be served 20 minutes late.

Two weeks ago, my kids started bringing home book orders.  I've been less than thrilled with the selection Scholastic chooses to offer on their order forms (I do not particularly enjoy paying money for stories from cartoons or popular movies or ones about zombies) I decided to go to a local bookshop and purchase books for each of my kids instead.  I placed the books on a mantle in our kitchen and told them at the end of the week they could have the books if they did all their chores and homework without complaining.

The lady at the bookstore helped me choose the books.  I told her my 8 year old had trouble getting interested in a chapter book and she suggested The One and Only Ivan.  (I love shopping at a store where the employees really love and know the books).
In a nutshell, this book is about a gorilla named Ivan that was kept solitary in a glass case in a mall in Washington for 27 years.  I love how it is written from the perspective of the gorilla and how heartfelt it is.  We are only 40 or so pages in, but it is a great story so far and I look forward each day to my son reading to me.  Not only are we getting to spend one on one time together, but I can tell already his reading is getting better.
These 20 minutes a day will add up to 3600 by the time the school year is over.  I'm hoping for my son and I to enjoy many adventures through new and exciting books together this school year.  I love that I was able to find a book that is new to the two of us and is based on a true story.  I hope that it will deepen his appreciation for reading, as well as spark an interest in something greater in him.

I've never been a big animal lover, but this book is evoking some emotion, listening to the gorilla recount how many days it's been since he had a visitor, or how mistreated the animals were.  The chapters are short and the words aren't too big.  I believe it could be read and understood by kids as young as first grade, but even adults would enjoy reading it as well.  If I weren't waiting for my son to read it to me every night, I would probably go ahead and try to finish it on my own.

Listening to the story of the lonely gorilla trapped in his cage, makes me think of how fortunate I am to have a loving husband, five healthy kids, and a warm cozy home to live in.  I can't imagine being confined to a room for a day, let alone 9,000+ days.

Ivan doesn't have much contact with other animals or humans.  Makes me sad for him.  Makes me think of people who live alone or who have no friends or who are isolated.

“Is there anything sweeter than the touch of another as she pulls a dead bug from your fur?” - quote from Ivan in the book.  

Take 20 minutes a day to do something that may help someone who is lonely, or needs an extra boost.  In 20 minutes, you could drink a cup of coffee over a short conversation, you could listen to a small story, you could take a short walk, you could enjoy a short meal, you could spread some good cheer, you could provide someone with their only human contact for the whole day, you could make a phone call, or even handwrite a letter.

If you're a parent, take 20 minutes to spend undistracted with your child.  Make them feel special as you spend time with them without your phone, email, or text interrupting.  Look them in the eye when you have a conversation, rub their back, put your arm around them, give them some affirmation that they have your undivided attention and that they are special.

Take 20 minutes and help make someone else's day a little brighter.

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