I have always loved reading as far back as I can remember. I was one of those kids who took his flashlight into bed and read under the covers after bedtime. I have all of these distinct memories of reading, and connections with books that I go back to over and over again. Growing up, books were what made me happy when I felt like everything else was falling apart. No matter what was happening in my personal life, I could always sit down, read a book, and escape for a little while.
So when my daughter was born in 2011, I knew that one of the things that I wanted to do with her was to find a way to foster a love of reading in her—to pass on the thing that I love. This blog is about all of those things. It’s about the books that I read to Rose. It’s about the books that I read for myself. It’s about the books that I read as a kid, and that I can’t wait to introduce to her. It’s about the process of reading, and the things that we do to try to give her a love of reading.
Case in point. In Rose’s room is a bookshelf. On that bookshelf rest probably close to 100 books. These books mostly come from my wife’s childhood. Before Rose was born we went to her parent’s house and pored through the stacks of books that they had saved from her childhood. We found books like Madeleine and Corduroy. There were books I hadn’t thought of in years. Books with the Reading Rainbow designation still stamped on the cover. Award winners and books I had never even heard of. To add to that collection we asked for a number of books for our baby shower. We got a Dr. Seuss collection. The Mr. Men and Little Miss series of book by Roger Hargreaves, which I grew up with. Some great Eric Carle books.
In my mind, those books would sit on the shelves in pristine condition. I would pick out a book while Rose was young, and she would sit, well behaved, in my lap. We would read the book, and it would go back in its place on the shelf.
Boy was I wrong.
Instead, Rose would reach for the book, try to eat it, turn to the back or front cover while we were right in the middle, take it and through it on the ground. She would go over to the bookshelf and proceed to pull down every. single. book.
I struggled with this for a while. I had forgotten that when I was younger I would fold down the corners of my books instead of using a bookmark. I had forgotten, in my love of a well taken care of book, that a well-worn book was a well loved book.
Jennifer reminded me of this one day. As I was stressing out about putting all of the books back onto the shelf and in their place, she said, “you know, you should probably just let her pull them down. Don’t try to stop her. She loves her books. We don’t want her to think she isn’t allowed to play with them. We WANT her to love them.”
After that, my whole perspective on it all changed. She was right, of course. Even with me being the Reading Specialist in the family, I hadn’t realized that Rose would have a different way of learning to love books. So we let her do that, and usually end up putting all of her books back at the end of the day with the knowledge that she’ll do it again tomorrow. And each time I have to remind myself that she is already learning to love her books. Someday she will want to keep all of them in neat order. Some day she will sit still and read through a book with me. Some day is not yet today.
And I’m okay with that.