Raising a Reader
A few weeks ago, we got an anonymous Amazon package. We get a lot of those now—random, anonymous Amazon packages.
They're usually from my mom. This was no exception.
It was an extra special one, though. One that made me almost weepy. In the package was the first book I ever read myself. I read it while sitting at the dining room table with my grandma. We have that table in our house now.
It's one of my earliest memories, reading that first book. Norma Jean Jumping Bean. I was four. I remember going on a car ride soon after and irritating everyone by reading all the signs we passed.
My grandma had created a monster.
When we got the package that day, I immediately took the book out, grabbed our son who was crawling for the outlets I had recently plugged for his safety, and sat him on my lap to read it. I was impressed with myself retroactively that the book says on the front that it was meant for first graders. I am completely aware of the fact that I am pretty self-congratulatory about my reading, and I'm not sorry about it.
The story was even better than I remember it: full of conflict, literary arcs, an underdog, and complexity...as much complexity as you can pack into a children's book about an over-active kangaroo.
As soon as I closed the book and let him go, Oliver was off to crawl somewhere and pull himself up on something exciting and I was left to my nostalgia for a precious few seconds to sit and ponder. Am I doing this thing right? How do I do my best to set him up to love escaping into books? How do I make sure I feed the him the right kinds of curiosities?
I know right now I can't really predict anything. All I can do is expose him to as much as I can. Thankfully for me, with a grandma, a great grandma, and a great uncle who are all librarians, the kid's gonna be surrounded by books, whether he likes it or not.
I recently started taking him to one of our local libraries. He loves pulling out books, chattering to all the people he sees, and sitting and reading with me a bit. The bonus is that it wears him out nicely in preparation for his afternoon nap. The problem is I have a hard time containing MY kid in a candy store feelings—you know, that wide-eyed, semi-frantic, EVERYTHING IS SO EXCITING WHERE DO I BEGIN feeling. What makes it even harder is EVERYTHING IS FREE.
He might absorb some of that excitement I have. We're in a good age spot where he can't really share his preferences with me yet, so as far as I know I'm doing a damnnnn good job raising a little reader.