June 19, 2005

Conducere Colloquim

K read two Bob Books® to me yesterday between giggles over the simple silly ink drawings of Mat sitting on Sam and Sam sitting on Mat.

A few days ago, she looked at me and read a three-letter word on my shirt.

I always enjoy the freedom that reading provides my children. They feel grown-up; they know they are so. But, I cringe when they begin to read some guy's lewd t-shirt while strolling in a public place....

With freedom comes responsibility. A baby first comprehends, then learns the mechanics of communication. I think many parents either forget this, or are unaware of the process. So, they continue to stick picture books in front of their children's noses (and very, very boring, unimaginative, Disneyfied ones at that), read without inflection or adding definitive voices to the characters, and then worry over Jr.'s lack of affection or desire for good literature.

The summer that my daughters turn five, I pull out The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Each day, somnolent from the afternoon sun, we climb into the book and boat the river with determined Ratty and thoughtful Mole; feel the exuberence of Toad and his misadventures; are calmed by Badger's reserve and sense of direction; and comforted by the loyalty true friendship brings.

We continue on with The Secret Garden (by Frances Hodgson Burnett) feeling Mary's obstinacy melt in Martha's good cheer and kindness; her frustrations mirrored in melancholy cousin Colin and her challenge for him to rise above it, as she has with the help of calming Dickon and a bit of earth to claim as her own.

As we go through the chapters, our conversations become peppered with reflections of the characters or situations. Eventually we incorporate little sayings as a conduit for the magic to find its way into the moments of the day. When one of the girls is feeling a bit negative, one of us might screw-up our face and proclaim, "I'm not sour!" It fishes a smile from the corner of a dour little mouth.

C.S. Lewis says it best for me: "...we do not retreat from reality, we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves... By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly."

Posted by Rae at June 19, 2005 03:42 PM

I fondly remember my mother reading The Wind in the Willows to my sister and I. I will enjoy reading it and many others to my own two little boys when they are old enough to sit still longer than to read a Berenstain Bears book!

Posted by: Sally at June 19, 2005 06:50 PM

Rae, you are so right. For myself, reading was a fantastic discovery. When I was a very young child, I felt in a sea of riches, a wonderful window to worlds unknown, all of this, of course, "peppered" with timely reflection by my parents and relatives who encouraged me all along the way.

None other than Jorge Luis Borges, stated well after being a blind man, that Heaven looked to him like an immense library; and he might have a point.

Posted by: Eduardo at June 21, 2005 08:17 AM

I am forever grateful that my parents read to us as kids. My mother would also take us to the library so we could get books. She would browse the aisles and select books for herself and my dad. So reading was ingrained in me and my brother - we both love to read to this day.

Even during car trips - as long as it wasn't hot in the car - I could read in the backseat. Thick books even in elementary school. Always a great escape and way to entertain myself.

When Hubster and I worked with the youth groups at church - I was shocked and surprised at some of the t-shirts the kids were wearing. Actually it shouldn't have surprised me since most of the parents looked at youth group time as baby-sitting time. We thought it should be just re-enforcement of what they should be learning at home. Apparently not.

Posted by: GrumpyBunny at June 21, 2005 09:32 AM

The world has held great heroes
As history books have showed
But never a name to go down in fame
Compared with that of Toad

The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed
But they none of them knew one half as much
As intelligent Mr. Toad

The animals sat in the ark and cried
Their tears in torrents flowed
Who was it said, "There's land ahead!"
Encouraging Mr. Toad

The army all saluted
As they marched along the road
Was it the king or the kitchener
No it was Mr. Toad

The queen and her ladies in waiting
Sat at the window and sewed
She cried "Look who's that handsome man?"
They answered "Mr. Toad"

Many really important life lessons about friendship can be learned from a little time spent with Mr. Toad and friends in the willows, eh!

Posted by: Toad at June 21, 2005 01:01 PM

Beautifully put. I remember both of those books fondly from my own childhood. The first books I read to myself at the age of four were "To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" by Dr. Suess and the "Frances" books by Russell Hoban.

I am forever grateful to my parents for instilling such a love of literature in me at an early age...I know it will always serve me well.

Posted by: jenn at June 22, 2005 05:44 PM
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