Monday, May 7, 2012

Rainy Day Reading

Today it is raining, and the wind is chilly. Normally I would have all (four) of the windows in the house thrown open, but I don’t want any toes getting cold today. So instead, when my daughter realizes that she hasn’t been outside yet and starts to get upset about it, I will distract her in the best way I know how.

We will read books. We will cuddle up on the couch or a bed and read through a huge pile of books. My younger daughter will devote herself to trying her hardest to wiggle out of her socks, and the older one will do what she always does: shove a book at me, saying, “This one, Mommy! This one now,” regardless of where I am in the current book.

My daughter’s bookshelf is a mix of the childhoods of my husband and I. His mother spent time reading him the works of Sandra Boynton (But Not the Hippopotamus, Hippos Go Beserk, etc.), my mother taught my brothers and I to love Maurice Sendak (Chicken Soup with Rice, Where the Wild Things Are, etc.).

We were both exposed to the writings of the good Doctor (Seuss, that is). My mother-in-law likes to tell the story of why she had to memorize One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: because when he was little, my husband turned the pages too fast for her to finish reading what was on them. Before we had ever seen the book, my brothers and I had our own ideas of what The Lorax looked like, because my aunt, who had prepared it for her high school Speech club, used to tell it to us. I know it so well today that I can start reading along with my husband as he reads it to our daughter, even if I’m across the room. “And deep in the grickle grass, some people say, if you look deep enough, you can still see today: where the Lorax once stood, just as long as it could, before somebody lifted the Lorax away."

Our Seussian library is not complete by any means, but we do have many of the more famous ones: Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and of course, The Grinch who Stole Christmas. I’ve been looking for the Bartholemew books (The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and Bartholomew and the Oobleck), but I haven’t been able to find them yet.

The reason that my daughter’s collection of Dr. Seuss’ works will continue to grow is that I love to read them to her. They are so interesting, both because of the stories he dreamed up and because of the words that he uses that I am never bored when I read them to my daughter.

Unfortunately there are a couple of books on her bookshelf that I don’t like to read to her. “Let’s read something else instead,” I say to her when she shoves one of the boring ones at me. My husband is much better about this than I am and will read whatever my daughter hands him. “She wants me to read it to her, so I will,” he tells me when I ask him why he doesn’t choose another book that’s more fun.

There are also a few big, thick, hardcover books on my daughter’s bookshelf. Two are books that my husband had when he was a kid: one full of nursery rhymes, and another collection of Brothers Grimm stories and a few by Hans Christian Andersen (the originals, not the disneyfied versions). Another is The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter. It may be a brand new book, but the stories inside are ones I know well from when I was a kid. “‘My friends will arrive in a minute, and you are not fit to be seen; I am affronted,’ said Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit."

I would love to go on, remembering the wonderful books which graced my childhood and my husband’s as they are now influencing my daughters’, but I need to stop writing for now. My daughter is calling, “Please read books, Mommy? Please read books?"

There’s nothing I’d love more.

1 comment:

  1. Yay kids books! Laurelin isn't a very patient reader though, she's too much of a mover. Every once in a while she will get in a book mood and we will read a huge pile but usually 2 or 3 and she's done. She especially doesn't have patience for long Seuss books. I'll read a sentence and then she just wants to know what all the creatures on the page are and when I don't give her an answer she likes she just tosses it "all done book". We love Boynton though, especially the more active books like Barnyard Dance; Happy Hippo, Angry Duck; and Let's Dance Little Pookie. Do you guys have any of her albums? I think you would love "Blue Moo: Jukebox Hits From Way Back Never" (and have you ever been to her website? Every inch hilarious)

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