What makes someone a reader?
Doesn’t everyone love stories?
I think I was born loving books. In Beaver Dam, I loved the old stuffy, overheated public library when I was a child. The wide entrance stairway led to a foyer where you could go left to the adult area. Or, you could turn right and go up a creaky flight of stairs to the children’s room. It held a vague feeling of…expectation.
Bookstores held me captive as an adult–especially those that offered fragrant coffee and scones to enjoy while I widdled down my pile of books to a few “must-buys”.
But my first memories don’t really seem to set me up as a voracious reader or lover of books…
I was 5 years old. In the corner of our family room, were floor-to-ceiling shelves. My little black rocking chair sat just in front of these shelves. Mom had corralled the kids’ books together at my height. I remember looking at those books and wishing that I knew their stories.
Second grade. There was a little carpeted area of our classroom which (I guess) was supposed to be the “library area. About 18 inches of what appeared to be children’s books sat in a neat untouched collection.
Third grade. The teacher had a “listening center” set up on the round table in the back of the classroom. A silver and hospital green colored box sat in the center reaching out with 6 cords connected to 6 black headphones. 6 copies of “In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories” sat waiting to be enjoyed. I must have listened to the book at least once because I remember being enraptured by the story of “The Green Ribbon”. But the listening center remained the same all. year. long. I wished there were more books in the world that could be read/listened to like this in school.
Reading to my children has always been a given. I started reading to my boys right after we brought them home from Russia. Our limit was three picture books per night. We read all of Dr. Seuss, Goodnight Moon, The Monster at the end of this Book, classics…and then some.
It always seemed that their favorites were some stupid Wal-Mart hand-me-down like Fluffy Monkey. We went to the library weekly and all three of us came home with an armload of books.
When they began First Grade, I read them all the favorites that I read in my class. Charlotte’s Web, The Box Car Children, and My Father’s Dragon.
Aubrey has always been a part of our reading time. Since she was teeny tiny, she’s listened in to stories that were years ahead of her comprehension. but there was always something beyond the story that healed her to story time. What could possibly hold a 5-year-old to a reading of The Mysterious Benedict Society byor Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan? Head rubs…of course.
You see when I was a small child staying over at my grandma’s house. She would read me a story from her big, green book “50 Famous Fairy Tales”.
I would look at the table of contents before she came to tuck me in to read. I would compare the page numbers so that I would try to choose the longest story.
Here is the important part, she would rub my forehead as she read to me before I fell asleep. She would start on my forehead and rub past my hairline until just above my ear. Then she would slowly repeat. Over and over again. Her raspy voice reading the words of what always felt to be a too short story.
Even today, I only read to my daughter Aubrey. She turns 13 in a few weeks. Sometimes I sit in a chair next to her bed and read. But often she asks me to sit on her twin bed. She lays her head on my belly and I stroke her hairline as I read.
I’m not sure if any of my kids will follow my lead and love reading. Right now I’m reading Aubrey book 2 of the dystopian “Uglies” series by Scott Westerfeld. It’s not my favorite, but our reading time together…
is about so much more than the story.