How motherhood led to a love of reading and the launch of READ Nola

My introductory remarks at the beginning of a session of READ always include telling parents that they are their child’s first and most influential teacher. What I found is that although I did serve in that role, I learned an equal amount from my children.

My career truly benefited from all my daughter and son taught me over the years. As a child, I was not read to and although I was a good student, I was a relatively slow reader and did not know the joy of reading for pleasure. My daughter loved language and books almost from birth. My son started reading at age four, extremely interested in the box scores on the sports page. I feel that they literally took me by the hand and we, together, explored books and the pleasure that reading provides.

I was a teacher by training and taught kindergarten at Newman school for a couple of years before my daughter, Lauren, was born. I left and was a full-time Mom until Josh, my second child, was 10 years old. When I went back to teaching, I continued in the classroom, but also developed a summer reading enrichment program. My interest in doing this was inspired by the love of reading that I experienced personally only after having children. My goal was to design a program that was a fun, comfortable learning environment. The original program was for children aged four to seven years. The summer program was a big success and I enjoyed working with children, books, and literacy so much, that I decided to leave the classroom, and READ was born.

I felt that the exposure to the magic of reading should begin even earlier than four years, so while I applied the same concepts from the summer program, I focused on starting a love of reading as early as possible.

READ Nola is now for children aged six months to five years. In addition, I wanted this reading experience to not only teach the children, but to serve as an opportunity for parents and children to explore the world of books together.

No matter how old they are, children remember times where they felt happy and close with their parents. Incorporating books into those special times helps children associate reading with positive feelings.

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Written by Marilyn Levin

Founder and director of READ New Orleans, a program for parents and children aged 6 months to 5 years that focuses on fostering a lifelong love of language and books.

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