We just had a little party for my first grade son. It wasn’t a birthday party or a welcome home party or any other type of party with which you might be familiar.
It was a book party.
I’m not sure where I first heard this idea, but I assume that I didn’t just come up with it myself. When each of my early-readers finished his first real book all by himself, we throw him a party. My youngest guy started reading this year and about a month ago he picked up a 50-60 page book and declared that he was going to get through it himself. We watched him meticulously sound out word after word, and we watched as the reading became smoother and more decipherable.
Then he finished the book.
And we were so excited for him. To convey our excitement, we invited six friends from his first grade class to his book party. They came to our house, just for an hour, and made bookmarks, had lunch, and played a game about books to celebrate with my son.
There is a tradition that many Jewish schools have kept for generations: to give honey to children on the first day that they are introduced to the Aleph-Bet, the Hebrew alphabet. My boys have all experienced this tradition and have dipped their spoons (or their fingers) into that honey, mingling the sweet taste with the sweet sound of their first letters. I’ve always loved this idea.
I want to cultivate this type of love for reading, this thirst for knowledge, and this understanding of the sweet taste of literacy in my children. It’s not always easy to convey a love for reading. I’ve tried to implement ideas like the book party to try to impart this love and this feeling of the celebration of literacy to my boys.
I did find it interesting that I was hesitant this time when I called the parents of the kids we were inviting. In the back of my mind was the worry that some would see competition in the invite. Oh, they might think looking down on my son’s progress, MY son has been reading for ages. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, they might think, Well, my son hasn’t read a full book yet. They are bragging about their son’s accomplishments. But I quickly disregarded this fear, reminding myself that parenting isn’t a competitive sport. My son is reaching this milestone now, in his own time and in his own way. And that’s cause for celebration.
This is just one of the many ways that I can convey to my children that reading, literacy, and the thirst for knowledge are so important. They are important enough that they get their own party—their own celebration. In the digital age, when we are so quickly losing our footing in the face of electronic temptations, we need all the reinforcement and celebration of education that we can get.