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Five Questions With 'Everyday Reading' Blogger Janssen Bradshaw

Welcome back to another installment of 'Five Questions With,' an interview series where we chat with some of our favorite moms in the Piccolina community and beyond! Today we're excited to share an interview with Janssen Bradshaw, former librarian turned creator of Everyday Reading, a blog dedicated to all things reading for little ones, adults, and everyone in between. Keep reading below to hear what reading has meant to her from childhood to now, how she is raising empowered daughters, and what her children have taught her as a mother.

You can also check out Janssen's free digital 'Raising Readers' course to, "teach your children to love reading, create more times of connections through books, and find the best titles to read together." Sign up here!

What was your favorite book as a kid and why?

Picking a favorite book for me is like picking a favorite child. I was a VORACIOUS reader and read hundreds of books a year! I loved visiting different time periods and exploring the world all from my own bedroom. Being a reader has been one of the most profound influences on my life and I'm so grateful for my parents that encouraged me to read great books (both new and old) and also let me read endless Sweet Valley Kids books.

What was a moment in your childhood when you felt powerful in a new way?

My mom strongly encouraged me to join the school debate team which sounded like THE most terrifying idea on the planet to me. I was a really good student and I mostly just wanted to stay in my lane and keep doing the things I was good at. Joining an existing team of my peers who were all really into speech and debate seemed like a recipe for failure. But I did it anyway and then, at my first competition, took first place in Dramatic Interpretation! It was so eye-opening to realize I could try new things and not just stick to the things I already knew.

How do you instill empowerment in your children? What does that mean to you?

I instill empowerment in my four daughters by giving them opportunities to try hard things (and giving them the tools they need to succeed). When my oldest daughter was just about to start third grade, we moved to a new city where our local public school was a Mandarin Chinese Immersion School. The program started in first grade and the school was extremely reluctant to let her join two years late, but my daughter is extremely bright and hard-working and we convinced the administration to give her one term to prove herself. My daughter has always been the top of her class so it was a big challenge for her to go in as the student that literally knew the very least in her class, and not only was she the new kid, she was the new kid who didn't understand a single word of what was being said all day long at school. We found a tutor for her and she worked like CRAZY that term to catch up and she really learned that she could do seriously hard things if she was willing to work hard enough for it and use the resources she had. By Christmas, her teacher told us she was one of the top students in the class!

What was your favorite piece of clothing when you were a kid, and why?

I had this cream colored tee-shirt from violin camp when I was maybe 9 or 10 and I thought paired with white jean shorts, it was THE best outfit ever. I looked forward to it coming out of the laundry every single week and felt like a million bucks when I wore it (looking back, that was definitely all in my head, but I loved it at the time).

What is one thing that your children have taught you?

That children don't usually have preconceived notions about what is fun and interesting and cool. It's all about presentation as a parent - you can say "we're going to read about these women in history and I want you to sit still and listen, even though it might be dull" or you can say "Do you want to hear about some super cool women who did awesome things? I can't WAIT to share these stories with you - they're going to blow your mind." Kids are naturally curious and want to learn new things and discover the world around them - my job as a parent is to help them do that and help keep them enthusiastic about it.

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