What Children Really Need
by Chrissie Morrison, YSS President
I have had a plethora of jobs in my lifetime. I’ve been a babysitter, fast food worker, camp counselor, construction worker, tutor, recreational therapy assistant, secretary, photo lab technician, waitress, daycare teacher, and more. And, despite the fact that each of those jobs taught me a little something about myself and navigating the world around me, none of them could truly prepare me for the crazy job I have now. Not being a librarian… Being a mom. Even though I majored in elementary education, took courses in childhood development, and spent countless hours caring for other people’s children, I worried that I was unprepared to be the person who made the rules instead of the person who simply followed someone else’s orders.
Setting up a baby registry, before the birth of my first child, was one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. Every product in every aisle of the store promised to make my son cleaner, happier, safer, or smarter. And what parents wouldn’t like to have clean, happy, safe, and smart children? These marketing people are clever, I tell you! It seemed like it might have been easier to simply open my wallet (or a vein) and let them take what they needed if they could only guarantee that my baby would have everything he needed. Luckily, common sense prevailed and I thought back to the advice my grandmother gave me. “Kids have too much STUFF today! A baby doesn’t need a lot of THINGS. It needs food in its tummy and lots and lots of love.”
My grandmother was such a wise woman! Much like the Beatles who said “love is all you need,” she insisted that love was the most important thing a parent could give to a child. And while there are many kinds of love, I think a love for books and learning is one of the most important loves a parent can bestow upon a child. Plain and simple, children need BOOKS. Listening to stories helps babies build neural pathways in their developing brains so they can master speech and communication skills. It helps children develop logical thinking and enhances their ability to concentrate. Reading provides an escape from stress. It opens doors to history and culture. And, of course, reading can be just plain fun!
Even though I know I’m not a perfect mom, I like to think that I’ve done right by my children in this regard. Because, though my babies are now 4 and nearly-9 years old, they still look forward to bedtime stories every night. It’s our chance to snuggle up on the couch, leave the rest of the world behind, and let our imaginations soar.