Fudge. Charlotte. Ramona. Matilda. BFG. The Great Brain.

If you don’t know who these characters are, I have nothing but sorrow for you. If you couldn’t read them yourself–or didn’t want to–I hope you had someone in your life willing to sit down with you and read them out loud. Once I read survey results stating that children did better in school when read to by a parent (which seems obvious) but a shocking number didn’t read to their kids daily, or even weekly.

That breaks my heart. I’m trying to think of a day in Maggie or Moira’s life where they haven’t heard at least two books before lunch. Moira’s still more interested in eating the books, but she’s game to look at the bright photographs and big block words of the board books. Even when she was a newborn, I read to Maggie. I used to read her Shell Silverstein poems just to hear the sound of my own voice cutting through the addled fog of those early days. With each reading of “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout,” I pulled myself further out of the terrible new parent hole of fear and insecurity and worry that we weren’t bonding like I thought we would; at least, if I was reading to her, I was doing something right.


Our old hometown in Hawaii had half-days for school on Wednesday. That was the worst day to go to the library because so many parents used the facility as a free babysitter/dumping ground for their elementary/middle school aged kids. One day I forgot and brought Maggie anyway. The kids’ section was crawling with kids, but one little girl caught my eye. She was about seven, wearing glasses and twirling her hair thoughtfully. In her lap was a copy of Charlotte’s Web–and didn’t have much left to read. I knew what was coming and waited. Sure enough, she finished shortly before we checked out. The tears welled, huge and swimmy behind her glasses, and when she sought out her older sister at the big kids’ table she couldn’t explain why she was crying.

Looking back, I wish I had gone up to her and told her I understood that Charlotte had broken her heart. It just seemed like too private a moment to interrupt.


Maggie and I read our first chapter book together a few months back: Winnie the Pooh. She still talks about hunting for woozles. Since then we’ve read The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me, started George’s Marvelous Medicine, and we’re going through our second round of Fantastic Mr. Fox. Every toy giraffe is a window cleaner; every mention of a bean is followed with a shout of “Bunce, Boggis, and BEEEEEEAN!” It amazes me that she’s only barely three and sits still for such long readings of dense text with minimal pictures, and her hunger for more, more, more books fills me with such indescribable joy. It’s so thrilling, anticipating all those words and worlds that are waiting for us to share together. I think Maggie will enjoy Peter’s aggravation as he deals with his irritating little brother Fudge (conversely, I hope Moira gets more out of rambunctious Ramona and frosty Beezus than I, the uptight elder child, was able to glean) and be pleasantly intrigued by the dimensions of the pit in James’s peach. And yes, even those difficult moments found in a friendly literate spider’s web or at the other end of the bridge to Terabithia–those are important too.

Reading was the core of my childhood, and I love being their guide. I can’t wait to see where books take them.


2 thoughts on “Booksamillion

  1. I did that too honey but not like the Moms of today. Not every day. But Jacqui and Bill did from the day Liam came home from the hospital. As his caregiver we followed their lead with him and Dara too. It pays off. They are both in the gifted program. Liam moves into middle school (6th grade) in Aug and Dara into 4th. Both are taught in Spanish a 1/2 day everyday. Liam now reads books in Spanish or English. School got out 3 weeks ago and he is on his 5th book. Just put them in front of him and he’ll read it. For his 11th birthday in Dec he wanted us to take him to see Harry Potter in Orlando. His Mom said sure, as long as he read every one of the books first and he did. I don’t think much of the FCAT testing because teachers teach to pass the test but Dara got a 99 in reading, writing and science. I think that is amazing. We are allowed to take them anytime we want to see, feel, touch or whatever something educationial. Liam is building robots out of legos this summer and going to some program on the net to make them move,,,,,, This summer we thought we’d take them to Williamsburg……… I think they might really enjoy that. Dara is the social butterfly, always going somewhere with a girlfriend at just 9 years old. She just finished a summer camp using the books of American Girl…. All about girls and being strong. I know, we read to our girls SNOW WHITE. But it looks like most of you found your way…. 🙂 I love reading your stuff!!!!

  2. same thing here. reading with my parents was the center of my childhood, and set the stage for pretty much everything in my life. recently, two co-workers with toddlers were telling me stories about their kids and some of the books i’d bought for those kids years back- how much they loved bringing them in to school or reading in their rocking chair or making up new stories with the characters best warm-fuzzies ever. nothing beats feeling like i contributed to someone’s love of reading.

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