June 08, 2004

Once upon a time

Reading to my children has always been a delight. I have a certain repertoire that I use with all of them. When each reaches three, I begin to aclimate them to listening to short pieces of chapter books, beginning with the Pooh series by A.A. Milne. We then move on to other greats: Just So Stories and Rikki Tikki Tavi; the Raggedy Ann setThe Wind in the Willows;The Secret Garden; A Little Princess; The Little House series; E.B. White's Charlotte's Web; The Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little. So, that by the time they are 6, they are re-reading them for themselves. I enjoy bringing the characters to life: creating an accent appropriate for the personality cultivated by the writer; talking about them and referring to them in conversations.

C and I are reading Lynne Reid Banks' The Indian in the Cupboard series. It is such a magical book. The idea of childrens playthings coming alive is nothing new. We all imagined it when young. Yet, when Omri places the plastic Indian casually into an old medicine cupboard and turns a filigreed key, the Indian doesn't just become his plaything come to life. It becomes a real human being with emotion, intellect, and needs. From his developing relationship with Little Bear, Omri learns the valued lessons of maturity, self-sacrifice and a bit of history all while gaining a kindred spirit along the way.

Almost everynight we read together. It is our special time. Occasionally, I am gone or attending to someone elses needs and R will pick up in the chapter. But, I savor these times together and am always blessed by simply being in the presence of my little ones. We laugh when Pooh thinks he might want a grandfather as a sort of pet; we are sad when Tommy doesn't come back to life in the cupboard; we are excited for Bright Stars to deliver her baby; we are frightened when Nag reaches the bathroom with intentions of death; we are relieved and comforted by Pa's knowledge of the woods and his gun; we are righteously indignated at the mistreatment and enslaving of Sara Crewe when her father dies; we are encouraged by the dedication of Toad's friends: Rat, Mole, and Badger.

I may regret many things in my parenting of these girls, but inducing them to the love of the written word is one over which I shall never anguish.

Posted by Rae at June 8, 2004 09:53 PM
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