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April 29, 2022

Growing a Family of Readers

We are kicking off this year’s Mother’s Day Author Blog series with Kimberly Belle, the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of seven novels, including her recently released psychological thriller, MY DARLING HUSBAND. When Kimberly’s children were young, life in the Belle household was routinely chaotic. Although there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to get everything done, she would always find time each night to read books to her kids. As Kimberly so eloquently puts it, “these little moments make the biggest memories, and some of the most precious.”


When our kids were little, money was a lot tighter than it is now. Our very first mortgage, two car loans and two kids who outgrew clothes every time I so much as blinked meant we had to work hard to make our salaries stretch. That was back when I sewed my daughter’s curtains myself, when I painted my son’s ceiling a midnight blue and covered it with plastic glow-in-the-dark stars. They didn’t notice the crooked seams and drip marks, and honestly, I was too exhausted to care. But one thing we never scrimped on was books.

Books were everywhere in our house. On bookshelves and every flat surface. In teetering piles next to couches and beds. On laps as we learned to sound out words in both English and Dutch. We lived in the Netherlands at the time, and my bilingual kids had to work twice as hard to spread their growing vocabularies over two languages. They weren’t early readers, but they were certainly enthusiastic ones.

When I look back on those early days, what I remember most was the chaos. That feeling of never having enough time in a day, of always rushing to get everyone fed and clothed and where they needed to be while an endless mountain of laundry grew and grew. The craziness that didn’t slow until bedtime, when the kids and I would cram ourselves into my son’s kid-sized twin, all those plastic stars twinkling above our heads as I read their favorite story for the millionth time. It really is true what they say, that these little moments make the biggest memories, and some of the most precious.

My kids are adults these days, with jobs and homes of their own, but nothing makes me prouder than to see their nightstands piled high with well-loved paperbacks and their overflowing bookshelves. They’re still those adventurous, eager readers I’ve always known, and though their bodies may have grown and their tastes matured, the stories of their childhood will be forever stuck in my head. Even now, I can still recite their favorite lines --- the ones I read to them a million times, in a tiny bed under the stars.