Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

In the Pages of a Book: Celebrating Your Family by Terry Doherty

November 18, 2010

I am so pleased to share with you this wonderful post Terry Doherty has written about two things very close to her heart: literacy and adoption.  Terry and I have yet to meet in real life, though we’ve come close several times, but I feel as if she and I are kindred spirits in many ways.  Her love for kid lit drew me to follow her on Twitter, her dedication and passion for getting books in the hands of all children has made her a friend.  Please check back next month as I spotlight Literacy Organizations including, The Reading Tub, Inc.

In our house, Halloween is the “eve” of a month of celebrating all things family. There’s my daughter’s birthday at the beginning of the month and Thanksgiving toward the end. Catherine’s birthday is doubly special because we are an adoptive family, and November is also National Adoption Month.

There is hardly a day in these past nine years where we haven’t shared a book with Catherine. Like many parents, we read with her as a baby as it connected us. Reading with our children is a natural bonding experience. Now, nine years later, I have seen it morph into its own kind of “comfort food.” On a bad day, Catherine asks us to cuddle up with her and share a story before bed.

Bedtime stories are a way to express our love and affection. It is also a way to show her that families come together in many ways. Each family’s adoption journey is an individual one. There are lots of paths to becoming an adoptive family, and as a parent, I have always wanted to share stories that match our story. Catherine is our daughter … and we became a family through adoption.

Finding that “just right” book isn’t easy. Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about the complex issues related to finding and selecting childrens books about adoption. I haven’t gone back and looked, but I would hazard a guess that families – and loving grandparents and friends who want to give books – are still challenged to find the book that fits their family.

The good news is that there are still plenty of great books to impart what family means. Reading with your child is an opportunity to celebrate the universal ideas of love, acceptance, and having a positive sense of self. Our kids can see themselves in Guess How Much I Love You, No, David! and Ladybug Girl alike.

Reading stories that mirror universal experiences helps them see that other kids have the same experiences, think the same things, have the same feelings … just like them. We don’t parse our love by how someone became our child, so do we need to parse their stories that way?

Don’t get me wrong, having children’s adoption books in our house is important. We want Catherine to see books as a way we celebrate our family … adoption is part of what makes her so special to us. Adoption stories have a very special place in our library, because my daughter does want books that help her understand how she came to be our girl. Books like Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born and Little Miss Spider are still popular, even though she has clearly “outgrown” them.

Now, as we enter the tween years, I hope to build her library with books that meet her where she is. I want to share stories with characters she can relate to, but also some that offer food-for-thought about how adoptive families come to be.

When I think about National Family Literacy Month, I envision sharing a book with a child to celebrate being a family. It is an opportunity to share special time together, create great memories, and communicate in ways that ordinary conversation can’t match. Here’s to those special times!

Terry Doherty is the Founder and Executive Director of The Reading Tub, Inc., a public charity for family literacy. She is the mom to a soon-to-be nine-year-old bookworm. Terry recently celebrated 20 years of marriage to her best friend. When she’s not writing about children’s books, you’ll usually find her reading one. She lives in Charlottesville, VA, in view of Monticello, home to the man who said “I cannot live without books.” [Thomas Jefferson]

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