G was lying on the floor of her room at bedtime tonight, hot tears spilling down her face. It was past her bedtime, and I was being encouraging her to get into bed for some quite read-by-herself time before I turned out the lights.
“Why are you crying, love?” I asked.
“Because no one will read to me!” She clutched her Amelia Bedelia library book against her chest.
“Ok, ok,” I said, succumbing to the power of her tears. My dinner, my messy kitchen, my blog, all of my other responsibilities—all of that could wait. “I’ll read to you.”
We cuddled on her bed, and I started reading. She immediately calmed down, and moved toward sleep. It was a successful bedtime, thanks to that book.
I was a lot like G when I was a kids. My nose was always in a book. I pretty much read my way through my town’s public library, spending hours getting lost in books (both the good ones and the not so good ones). So, it is a special gift for me—a perk of parenting, if you will—that my kids also like books. Whether it’s at bedtime, like G, or every waking moment (including the walk to school), like R, my kids really like books. At five years old, G is still working on learning how to read, while R, at seven, is well on his way. Once he figured out reading, his world changed; it opened up, it expanded. It’s been so wonderful to watch!
I committed to sharing my love of books with my kids from the beginning. I still remember lying on my bed with R when he was just a few weeks old, reading him his first book—“Ferdinand the Bull.” G’s first book was Dr. Seuss.
Now that they are older, I have been reading them some of my favorites. Last night, we finished one of them: “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume. My copy of the book is dated 1972, and the price listed on the upper right hand corner is $1.50! The pages are frail with age, easily ripping. The best part, though, is the inside front cover. “Read” in careful cursive is written in pencil, balancing out my name which is printed in pen on the first page. I remember going through books, noting the ones I had finished by writing “Read.” Over and over I wrote that four-letter word, marking my books with my accomplishment. Now, I share them with my kids.
We’ve read “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” slowly over the past few months, a chapter at a time. Last night, we took on the last two chapters, and, if you know this book, you know they are great chapters. In one, the hero, Peter Hatcher (the aforementioned fourth grader) goes to the movies with his father and little brother, Fudge, and, in the other, Fudge gets into some mischief with Peter’s pet turtle, Dribble. The kids and I read the chapters lying on G’s bed, practically sitting on one another so the kids could see the occasional pictures and pick out words from the text. As I started the last chapter, however, I remembered how funny it is, and I moved away from the kids so I could watch their faces as I told them about Peter, Dribble, and Fudge. They howled with laughter, hopping off the bed to bounce up and down on the floor, shrieking, giggling, and so enjoying the story.
It was difficult to get R and G to settle down for bed afterward, but I didn’t care. After all, now they loved the book as much I do. Next to hugs, kisses, and the whispered “I love you, Mommy,” reading with them is my favorite part of being a parent.