Years ago I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Eddie Bonnemere. He had played piano for Duke Ellington and told wonderful stories of late rehearsals and long road trips. One story that stuck with me was this: whenever the band finally stopped for a meal Mr. Ellington would return thanks not only for the food but for the time and company as well. All these years later I’m still grateful to Mr. Ellington, by way of Mr. Bonnemere, for reminding me that time and the people we choose to spend it on are precious.
Now, let me get to my point. As a children’s librarian I am frequently asked, especially this time of year, by Grandma and Uncle and godpapa to help them choose books for the darling young person in their lives. They have gotten the message that books are good for youngsters and are eager to do their part in setting that child on the path to academic success. There’s a second, delicious part to the equation though. Books are great gifts, but they are all the better when a much loved adult spends time reading them with the child. If the adult is too far away there is reading together over the phone, or a video call, or even a homemade read-along with a CD or (yikes) a cassette tape of the adult reading. Jim Trelease can tell you all about the benefits of reading aloud, even to older children, and offers many wonderful suggestions. Any children’s staff member at DCPL can do the same. So, buy the books, check them out of the library, it really doesn’t matter either way but be certain to treat yourself, and that special child, to time together talking, laughing or crying over a book. Books are great, but books + time together is the best.