Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Love

I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who 
think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. - Anna Quindlen

We are a bookish household. (Well, at least three of us are, while the other tends to focus on newspapers, magazines, spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations, but let's not talk about that). We have stocked bookshelves in three bedrooms, the upstairs hallway, the living room, and the family room, designated chairs just for reading, and a bean bag-filled kid corner designated the "book corner." This makes me happy.

One of my greatest joys as a parent is sharing books with my children. The Going to Bed Book will forever be associated with the rocking chair in the babies' rooms, I can recite nearly all of The Cat in the Hat, and I have discovered that easy readers can be fantastic, thanks to Frog and Toad. While reading to my children when they were little(r) was special, what brings me the most pleasure is sharing more complicated fare with them now that they both can read and comprehend at least some of the more advanced material.

When my son first read the Harry Potter series, he was amazed that I knew every detail (it may have been my most "cool mom" moment to date;  they are rare). He was strangely even more impressed when I admitted my knowledge of the last two books was somewhat lacking and reread them both so I could better discuss them with him. He returned the favor later by recommending the Percy Jackson books and urging me to read them. I did, thought they were great fun, and loved being able to share the experience with him.

Sharing old favorites is particularly special. I have been reading The Little Prince aloud before bedtime with both kids. I know they don't get all of it, and they find humor in moments meant to be poignant, but they know I love it and are interested to hear more. After an introduction to the book at school, my daughter and I have been reading Charlotte's Web at bedtime. I've warned her that the ending is sad, but I refuse to give away any plot detail. She has started using salutations and humble in conversation, thanks to Charlotte. Today, we started listening to the audiobook of A Wrinkle in Time.  I was hoping the kids would read the book, which is on the shelf awaiting their interest, but when searching for a new audiobook finally couldn't resist the urge to share this favorite.

Speaking of my old favorites, my parents were kind enough to save many of my childhood books. My kids have the opportunity to read my copy of Charlotte's Web or The Trumpet of the Swan, and when the time is right, will have Anne of Green Gables, the works of S.E. Hinton, and most of those by Judy Blume, complete with my name in the front in either print or cursive, from long before my only handwriting was a weird blend of both. Already, they love to read "Mommy's books" that are a little worse for wear.

We spend a lot of time in the car, so we've taken to listening to audiobooks. In addition to A Wrinkle in Time, I've introduced the kids to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but when it comes to audiobooks anything is fair game, and we love a good series. Recently, we discovered The Underland Chronicles, a five-book series by Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games. The series has prophecies, quests and fantastical things, but is an allegory about war. I don't know how much the kids picked up, but the books deal with biological warfare, genocide, war crimes and "just following orders," and the role of arms vs. diplomacy. Heavy fare for those who know history, but a rousing good story even for those who don't.

I sincerely hope that the kids will continue to share my love of books and that they will share their books with me. Despite my vast to-read backlog, I'm always looking for a good book recommendation, and there are few things I love more than discussing the age-appropriate ones with my kids. I'd love to increase that backlog, so what are you reading at your house?

1 comment:

  1. I also love sharing the books I adored as a kid. My girls and I are reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series together, and I feel like they're getting a good sense of what life was like without all the basics they take for granted today. I've also shared "A Little Princess" and "The Secret Garden" and "Heidi" with my oldest. She really loved them.

    We've also enjoyed a couple of modern series together. We read all of the books about the Penderwick sisters by Jeanne Birdsall and the girls couldn't get enough of them. They also loved the Tumtum & Nutmeg books by Emily Bearn.

    My oldest is into the "39 Clues" series, anything by Kate DiCamillo, and has just started the Lemony Snicket books. She's really eager to start the Harry Potter series, but I am just a little reticent because I don't think she'll be able to handle the darkness of the later books. I know that once she reads the first one, she'll want to devour the remaining six, and I just don't think she'll be able to get through them without nightmares. :) I have a feeling that I am going to lose this battle shortly as all of the books are sitting right here under her nose.