I am a bibliophile (actually click over to that Wikipedia link, there is some weird stuff over there). I have been one for as long as I can remember. I was a very early reader and spent what feels like entire summers at the local library. Judy Blume, Ramona, How to Eat Fried Worms, Charlotte’s Web, Diary of Anne Frank. I would enter every summer reading program. I would blaze through books at crazy speed. Even in the most intense parts of graduate school, I could be found ending out my night with a novel in my lap.
Somehow, when I became a mom, I seemed to stop reading. Unless you count parenting books and my wide variety of magazines. I still gave it some effort. Picking up a book right before I went to bed, but 3 sentences in…well, I would wake up the next morning with the open book on my chest. Last year, a friend of mine started a book club and I enthusiastically signed up. It was like being reunited with a long lost love. I devour each book and can’t wait until the next one is announced.
When we had kids, the hubby and I discussed how important it was to us to instill a love of reading in our children. It encourages such great imagination and creativity. I think that might be part of the reason we are such freaks about limiting TV. I would so much rather have them curl up with a book about Dora that zone out in front of her show (although Dora at least has them yelling Spanish and jumping around).
So we stock our house with board books. Head to the book section at garage sales. Don’t even get me started on those Scholastic order forms they send home from school. We read every night before bed. We have Lily read during her quiet time. We pack suitcases full of books for road trips. We strap our children down and prey their eyes open, forcing them to look at books (ok, we don’t go that crazy).
So it came as no surprise to me that Lily is an early reader. Actually I was a bit surprised cause she was quite early, but it seemed hard wired into her DNA. You know the great thing about you kid being able to read? You don’t always have to do it for them. They can entertain themselves with books for hours and even entertain their younger siblings. You want to know the downside? You can’t skip over parts in the book to get to the end quicker. No paraphrasing either. Just one less way I can lie to my children. And isn’t lying the basis of half the stuff I do?
So I decided it would be really cool to start reading chapter books with Lily. I toyed with the idea that she might be to young, but I told her when we started that if she thought the bookwas too long or too old for her we would save it for later. I figured a chapter a night before bed time would be a really cool bonding experience for a seasoned book worm and her protege. This was one of those few and precious times I was sooo right.
I picked the Little House on the Prarie books cause I remember them with such fondness as a kid. I also stumbled on some old episodes on the Hallmark channel one day and Lily seemed very into it. Very confused, but very into it. So tonight, we began chapter one.
Here’s what I forgot. There is a lot of animal killing going on out in the wilderness. Lily finally looked up at me and said, “Aren’t they being kind of mean to all the animals?” I explained to her that, as we had talked about before, a lot of our food comes from animals. I think that fact was really sinking in and for a moment I feared I had created a vegetarian. But then I think the thought of yummy bacon got the best of her and we read on. She was completely amazed by people living in a one room house, killing and growing their own food, and not having a refrigerator. Think about that through a 4 year old’s eyes in 2008. I think I rocked her world. That my friends is the power of books.
Remember that Mary and Laura have one rag doll that belongs to Mary. Laura has a corncob that she pretends is a doll. At the end of the chapter Lily looked at me and said, “I think I want to be Laura…no wait Mary. Is that the one with the real doll, or the corncob? Cause I don’t want to be the one with the corncob doll.” Interesting point. I am so glad when discussing the toys played with in the book, we focused on the dolls and not the pig bladder that Pa blows up (I don’t even want to think about how) that they bat around like a ball. Thankfully I don’t think Lily quite grasped the concept of a blown up pig bladder being batted around. Maybe that’s why these books are best read by the young. I am not sure I will ever think of pigs the same way. Wait…mmm, bacon. Never mind.