Read! Give! Grow! Our Day at Milk + Bookies Story Time Celebration

To me, there is nothing better than teaching my child (even at 7 months old) the importance of being involved and giving back. When I am able to do this with an organization that is not only great, but personally matters to me, its extra icing on the cake. This past weekend I was able to combine my love of books (especially children books) with my passion for helping others. My family got the pleasure of being a part of this year’s 5th Annual Milk + Bookies’ Story Time Celebration. Milk + Bookies’ Story Time Celebration brings families together to enjoy an afternoon of reading books, participating in story-inspired arts & crafts and teaching the importance of giving back. This year’s event was held at the Skirball Cultural Center and included magic characters, music, and milk and cookies! My favorite part of the event was sharing story time with Camden. During story time, children heard their favorite books from readers including actors Jenna Elfman, Modern Family's Julie Bowen and Scandal's Dan Bucatinsky.

What I love about this event is that is truly opens children up to that world of books and the creativity that comes from reading. It also reminds adults of the importance of reading to children and making sure children of all economic and social backgrounds have access to books. Milk + Bookies website noted that this year’s Story Time Celebration allowed for 3,000 books to be donated to Operation School Bell. This organization provides kids from underprivileged homes with basic and necessary needs such as backpacks, basic hygienic products, school supplies, and books!

Our day at Milk + Bookies!

Our day at Milk + Bookies!

Cute idea for milk and cookies. Plus a sweet chubby hand!

Cute idea for milk and cookies. Plus a sweet chubby hand!

Johnathon, Camden and Pippy.

Johnathon, Camden and Pippy.

Camden loves Dragons Love Tacos

Camden loves Dragons Love Tacos

The awesome Dan Bucatinsky during story time!

The awesome Dan Bucatinsky during story time!

There are many benefits of reading to children, as early as newborns. Here are some of the benefits of reading I have learned since having my son.

Creates Bonding Times: When your child hears the tone and inflection of your voice, it creates a sense of soothing and comfort for them. A recent study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found that reading to babies in the NICU can help parents develop the same feelings of intimacy that parents of healthy newborns cultivate after a baby's birth.

Promotes Self-Reading and a Rich Vocabulary: Granted your baby doesn't understand what you're saying, he can still begin to pick up the rhythm and tone of a word. The more words a baby is exposed to, the better prepared he is to start reading on his own. There are direct links between how many words a baby hears each day and their language skills. The more you speak to them, the better prepared they will be.

Better Communication Skills: When you spend time reading to children, they’ll be much more likely to express themselves and relate to others in a healthy way. By visualizing interactions between the characters in the books you read, as well as bonding with you during story time, your child is gaining valuable communication skills. Children who have the ability to find the words they want to use are more likely to have a strong self-image and sense of self. Gemm Learning online program says that well-read kids are more likely to attempt to formulate their thoughts before becoming angry or demonstrative. "With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well-read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better," - Gemm Learning.

Teaches Children that Reading is FUN: Early reading helps children view books as a pleasure, not a chore. Kids who are exposed to reading are much more likely to choose books over video games, television, and other forms of entertainment as they grow older.

Book descriptions below from Amazon.

Book descriptions below from Amazon.

Here is a list of some of the books our family loves to read:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?  (Henry Holt & Co.) A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck--all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle's flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin's singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Little Simon) Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault’s rhythmic text keeps the beat with Caldecott Honor illustrator Lois Ehlert’s bold, cheerful art. This winning combination has created a series of enduring Chicka Chicka favorites, and now, for the first time ever, the complete edition of the original Chicka Chicka Boom Boom story is available as a Classic Board Book. With sturdy pages and rounded corners, this portable edition of an irresistible alphabet romp will delight a new generation ofyoung readers.

One Hand, Two Hands(Thomas Nelson/ Harper Collins) Written in rhyming text by best-selling author Max Lucado and illustrated with the charming art of Gaby Hansen, this simple message of God’s blessing of hands not only entertains . . . as it teaches what wonderful things our hands can do from scratching, latching, and petting a pup to washing dishes with mommy and putting toys in a box . . . but it also conveys the important message: We can use God’s gift of hands to show our love for Him by helping others.

Mouseton Abbey(Make Believe Ideas)  It’s Cheesemas at Mouseton Abbey. And at Cheesemas, the Mouseton family pass around the Great Big Cheesy Diamond and everyone gets to make a wish. But this year, there’s a problem. The house is clean, the feast is being prepared, but the Great Big Cheesy Diamond is missing! With beautiful, hand-knitted characters and ornate, illustrated backgrounds, the unique visual style of this book will delight young readers and adults alike. Nick Page’s charming and witty story makes this book perfect for reading with young children!

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site(Chronicle Books) As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest—so they'll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play! With irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text, this book will have truck lovers of all ages begging for more.

Where is Baby's Belly Button?(Little Simon) Karen Katz's adorable babies play peekaboo in this delightful interactive book. The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps are perfect for parents and children to share.

What are some of your favorite books to read to your child? Any positives you’ve noticed from reading to children? Do you have a favorite resource for encouraging children to read?

About Milk + Bookies: Milk + Bookies is a nationwide charitable organization that gets books into the hands of thousands of children who need them. At Milk + Bookies events, boys and girls are provided the opportunity to select, purchase and inscribe books that are then donated to their peers who do not have access to books of their own. The organization combines two essential and worthwhile efforts: Service Learning and Literacy Promotion. Just as important as the book donations, is instilling the seed of giving into each participant, sparking feelings of importance, self-confidence and the desire to give and give again.