Monday, March 8, 2010

Read Read, It's Good for Your Heart

I remember when Bird was born some people from the church we had joined threw a baby shower for us. Being the most clueless of mothers, I asked the pastor at what point we should start reading to our son. She emphatically charged, "NOW! It's never to early. Read now. Read often. Rejoice." And so from that point on we have cuddled our son in the crook of our laps and read to him. All the classics and treasures and gems from Indian folklore to add a bit of culture to our repertoire. Thank you, Pastor Julie, for your sage advice.

Fast forward several months. Norman, ranking among the kindest, most generous guys I know, gave me and Mac Daddy one of our most favorite gifts to welcome baby Deal into our family: Honey for a Child's Heart.

We loved flipping through this book pointing out our childhood favorites. Sadly, one my favorites isn't listed, and it's not available at my local library. I'll give you my firstborn* if you can get your hands on Andrew Henry's Meadow. I can still picture the tattered lime green cover and ink illustrations. I remember never tiring of that book and daydreaming about escaping to my own meadow. Honey for a Child's Heart speaks to the value in reading aloud to your children and really creating a reading culture in your family. Setting an example is key. Read here about the example I set for Bird. I have about three books on my nightstand at any given time. I carry a book with me practically everywhere (Note: I need an eReader to lighten the load.). My kids see me reading All. The. Time. Reading trumps TV in this house (because we have DVR to watch stuff later).

When I was a child, life at home was rather tumultuous. I craved an escape but had nowhere to go. Books were my light, my savior, my sanity. My most happy times were when my nose was pressed into a book. Then, and now, I was careful not to bend the spine, maintaining the primness of the books I held so sacred. I've lately been reliving my childhood through books that moved me way back when. So far I've read the likes of A Wrinkle in Time, The Borrowers, Sounder, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Bridge to Terabithia, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It is remarkable to see these tomes through my 41-year old eyes. Most remarkable is that I still love those stories. I cried at the end of Sounder even though I knew the ending and had been anxiously anticipating it through the whole book. Bird just finished a couple Roald Dahl books -- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Danny Champion of the World. Tonight he embarked on the ambitious journey of the first in the Harry Potter series. I applaud him!

You have no idea how proud I am to see my Bird read. His first experience of "the book was better than the movie" was with The Indian in the Cupboard. Throughout the movie he kept remarking how it had taken liberties with the book. Well, he didn't phrase it that way, but you get my drift. I swell with pride at the very sight of Bird curled up in what we call the comfy chair with a book. He stays up late with his nightstand lamp illuminating the words that beckon him to dreamland. He recounts tales to us at the dinner table and on a good day, he reads to his little brother. The beauty of those two little boys nestled shoulder to shoulder in the comfy chair makes my heart pitter patter and my pride gleam.

Deal, while only four, loves books too. He can sit quietly for ages with his face pressed to a book. At a glance he'd fool you into thinking he's actually reading. He could spend everyday at the library, and they know us by name there. Once, when given the choice of the library or the park, both boys screamed "Library!" in unison. You have no idea how proud I was. Deal and Bird both love when we read aloud to them. Even though Bird can read on his own now, he still relishes that lap time when he gets to hear the words leap from the pages in our character voices. Our laps are getting smaller, but our love for books is growing deeper.
Read on.

*You shall get my firstborn when he is in the throes of disobedience and defiance, not to be returned until he is docile and ducky in demeanor.
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ChefDruck said...

I love the image you leave us with... our laps are getting smaller but our love of books is growing. Wonderful!

The Mother said...

Until the Amazon bills start reading you out of house and home.

1A said...


Magpie said...

Love this.

Also, Alibris has 61 copies of that book: http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?binding=&mtype=&keyword=Andrew+Henry's+Meadow&hs.x=15&hs.y=2&hs=Submit

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for books and boys who read! EVERY single room in my house has books. I wouldn't have it any other way. And the library is on our weekly route.

jeanne said...

Agree with ChefDruck. Lovely post and beautiful descriptions of your boys reading!

Mocha Dad said...

I told my daughter to eat her spinach because it is brain food. She replied, "No, Daddy. Books are brain food."

Graham said...

Gladys Hunt also has a blog by the same name: Honeyfor a Child's Heart. :)

Bren said...

The Lucy Daniels Center has a new program called Lucy's Book Club. Recommendations for books to read to your children are made monthly and age-appropriately. The program is hosting Judith Viorst on June 5th speaking and reading from some of her famous children's books. Lucy Daniels herself will kick off the period leading up to the Viorst event by reading from her favorite children's books at Quail Ridge Bookstore on May 22nd. Here are some links for more information about this great opportunity.