An interview with Carter Lyons of Powhatan, Virginia
How important to you is reading as a parent of young children?
I believe that reading is incredibly important for young children. It brings the world alive in ways that they understand, it encourages imagination, it develops language and communication skills, and simply put, it’s fun. Additionally, spending time reading with a child
is an incredible way to build a relationship with them. Reading is so powerful.
What was reading like for you as a child? Have your feelings about books grown out of your own exposure in your childhood home?
I feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by books from the earliest days of my life. My family was very intentional about making reading a part of every single day. I have always loved to read and I am confident that an early and regular exposure to books and to reading is a
huge part of why. At a young age, reading was something that was fun and that I looked forward to – but as I grew older, learning to read was exciting and came very easily for me. As a young adult and later as an adult, it is still one of my favorite activities and I’m certain that it is
because my family made it such an important part of my life from the very beginning.
What types of books bring the greatest delight to you and your children? Do you have favorite titles, authors or genres?
My kids love all types of books. We’ve spent a lot of time reading to them and with them since they were very small and they enjoy a wide variety – which I love. As they’ve gotten a little older, they’ve started to learn that different books have different purposes and that sometimes
we read to learn, other times we read for fun. We still read picture books because they still enjoy them but they’re also enjoying the depth that chapter books offer.
Do you look for ways to extend the learning beyond the books with activities, field trips, discussions, media or other endeavors?
We try. In all honesty, this is something that I wish we could do more of. What we have done has been fun; we’ve made some recipes tied to stories, connected books to movies, and even created a book club where the kids involved read the same book and then met together for dinner, an activity, and a short discussion of the book. It’s awesome to bring the story to life, just not something we do as often as we’d like!
What are the greatest obstacles to spending time together with books? How do you handle those challenges and/or how might you suggest others do so now?
A lot of time, it comes down to our schedule. We are intentional about ending the day reading; sometimes together, and sometimes my kids read on their own. I’d love to have far more time, but both my husband and I work full-time, so by the time we are all home together in the
evening, especially on nights where one or both of my kids have a sporting event, we are down to a short window of time. We do as much as we can and where we can work in some extra time, we do it.
As you go through the day with your children, can you see the influence of books you share? Do your children mention the stories or characters?
Yes and I love it that they connect what they’re reading to their everyday lives. It’s especially funny when they make a connection to a story they’ve read at school or with someone else and expect me to know exactly what they’re talking about. 🙂
Are there times when your children seem to be applying lessons learned from books in your daily lives? Do you notice them making connections between books and real world experiences?
Occasionally. It varies based on what they’re reading, but more often than not I find them applying what they have experienced themselves to what is happening in a book. We’ve definitely used books to help them understand something that’s happening or resolve a problem they’re facing and it’s really cool to see them connecting stories to their life.
How important is the public library in your family literacy practices? How valuable do you believe public libraries are today?
It’s a huge treat for our kids; they love going to the library! We own a fair number of books and we always encourage books as gifts, but the library gives both us and them access to so many more. My husband and I use the library quite a bit so they’re seeing that modeled and they
love being able to find books and check them out themselves.
Reading is, of course, one component of effective literacy. How do you believe parents most effectively guide children towards greater confidence and skill in reading, writing, speaking and listening? How important is the parent’s example in all of these areas?
For us, it has been making reading a daily activity from the very beginning. We started reading to our kids when they were a few days old; it was part of their daily routine and quickly became something they enjoyed. As they got older, we read to them more and more – and we let them see us reading during our spare time. Reading has always been a huge part of their lives and we’ve made it fun for them; as a result, both of our kids are great communicators and they love to read.
In your family, do you sense that reading has enhanced your bonds with one another?
Reading has always been such an important part of our kids’ lives; it was a way to spend quiet time with them when they were very young and as they’ve aged, it’s been a way to connect with them in different ways. Reading has definitely been something that has brought us
together as a family and it brings me such joy that they love to read as much as my husband and I do.