My passion for reading was nurtured early in life by my parents, who had a gift for storytelling. This love of learning that I grew up with drives me to provide the same for my patients at Milestone Pediatrics in Atlanta, GA through the Reach out and Read Program.
In October 2015, my dad passed away unexpectedly. Even though he was 86 at the time, his passing still came as a shock to me. It never crossed my mind that either of my parents would be gone someday. My mom and dad were very prominent in my life. They nurtured me and my siblings with lots of love. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria but left for England at 23 years old; then moved to the US at 28 years old. My parents visited me and my family almost every single year while we lived in England and then in the US.
My dad completed grammar school (high school equivalent). My mom did not have the privilege of formal education; but somehow, they had a formidable and loving partnership that resulted in their entrepreneurial successes and wealth-building.
My dad could read, write and speak English very well. There wasn’t a day that passed in the 23 years I lived at home that my dad didn’t read newspapers. I have the image stuck in my mind of him in his glasses reading them every day. They both also traveled extensively internationally for business and pleasure. These global adventures obviously were a huge contributor to the vast amount of knowledge they had of so many life topics.
They did not read to me, but I developed a love of reading on my own partly because I observed my dad reading quite often. However, they both loved telling stories….especially my dad. Wow! Those storytelling times will forever be in my memory. My dad would sit me and my sister down and tell us story after story about his childhood; how he grew up in a family of butchers.. and tales of his entire family lineage. He was so entertaining that I’d sit there listening to him, lost in the imagination that I was there during those times and events he was sharing with us. My mom loved to tell stories too, and she often contributed nuggets to my dad’s storytelling.
After I had my daughters and they became toddlers, my parents could not wait to start telling them stories also. Their trips to Atlanta to visit us were filled with so many occasions of precious times with their granddaughters. They both still have lovely memories of their granddad in his soft and low-pitched voice telling them stories of their family tree and so many other tales.
He passed away exactly four weeks after they left Atlanta in October 2015.
My mom passed away in February 2019.
Sweet memories of both my parents remain with me and my daughters. Memories of the love, happy times and selfless nurturing they showered on us.
Their stories remain stamped in our minds and they bring a smile to our faces.
This is the same experience parents can create in their children by reading to them every day from infancy. There is so much love that can be passed on to kids just by telling them stories and reading to them and this is why I am so passionate about the Reach Out and Read program for my families.
For the last 15 years, I have worked hand in hand with Reach Out and Read, an organization committed to creating a world where every child is read to every day. I (and 33,000 of my pediatric colleagues across the country!) spend time at each well-child visit for babies and children ages 0 to 5 encouraging families to read, talk, sing and play together every day. I also send a book home – for many children that I see, the books I deliver in partnership with Reach Out and Read are the only books in their home libraries. Nationally, Reach Out and Read provides more than 7,000,000 books to 4,500,000 children each year.
I ask you to partner with me in this great cause by clicking the link below to donate. Any amount will be highly appreciated.