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Heimerman: Words are more than power – they're bonding opportunities

I often wing it when it comes to public speaking. I volunteered to read to kids at Clinton Rosette Middle School on Friday, part of Reading Day in America, without a plan.

I showed up with the 500-page documentary, “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azerrad, in tow.

Then I met Jeff Taylor, a personal banker with First National Bank in Sycamore. He had a fantasy novel, which would no doubt grab tweens’ attention. We’d present together to the kiddos. I got to go first, bless my heart.

As I told the nearly teenagers, I spend most of my day critically reading anything from my reporters’ articles, to my own writings and wire stories. When I get home, if I’m going to read nonfiction, I like to read about the evolution of punk rock and other personal interests. If I’m going to read fiction, I’ve been on a quasi-classics binge: Vonnegut, Heller, Camus and the like. Although those novels have many historical overtones. I love them for the characters, but I’m intrigued by the societal commentary. I just polished off “Breakfast of Champions.” Approach with caution, I’d say.

I read to escape, to relax, to learn and to keep my brain healthy.

I loved my back-and-forth with the kids – stuff they love to read, most notably “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” – but I was captivated before I even got in front of them.

Taylor told me he vividly remembers his mother reading to him. She’d do all the voices in Dr. Seuss and other books, he said.

Gosh, I hope that holds up in my family, and I think it will.

What came up, and what I can’t shake, was a teacher telling kids that they should ask their parents to read to them.

I was floored. What a concept, that kids, no matter how old they are, should ask their parents to read to them.

When my girls ask me to read to them, I’m hooked. I’m not turning down an opportunity to lure them into a book, and the worlds it might hold. I’m a nerd, however. My priorities might not align with those of other parents.

I hope the students learned a lot Friday, but here’s what I came away with: We as parents are busy. We’re tired in the evening. It takes kiddos to ask us to read to them for us to do so, sometimes.

When they do, let’s listen. When you read this, bring up the possibility of reading more. Any time of day.

• Christopher Heimerman is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2221, or email

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