One of the exciting things about being a parent is introducing books to my little ones. They go from interacting with the physical books–chewing them, pulling them off shelves, stuffing them in various holes, crevices and nooks, turning pages and pointing to pictures–to interacting with the story itself. This is the fun stage my oldest son is at; he enacts the stories (though the enthusiastic chopping down of Truffula trees with an axe made out of Tinkertoys is not, perhaps the take-home message of The Lorax), talks about them and brings them into his real life.
The other day, while we were out on a family walk, the Firstborn started to make grimacing faces. “Look, Mommy! I smile at the good and frown at the bad*!” I cracked up and after that we were off and running, with the literary allusions flying fast and thick between us, calling the full moon a bowl of milk** and me teasing him that I would turn into a pumpkin at eight. (He insisted I would be a hen instead, then got upset when I made clucking noises, and turned me back into Mommy.)
I love how kids get into stories. I love that, after reading One Morning in Maine, the Firstborn took his sister to dig clams in our yard (good luck, kids!). I love that he’s memorized whole books; the other day he sidled up to me and told me that he’d be my best friend and give me five bucks if I let him drive the bus***. Oh, and he bet my mom would let him. I love how kids just dive into the material; playacting, drawing, building, asking questions, reinterpreting, weaving these stories into the fabric of their lives.
And I love how shared reading experiences bring us together as a family. That we can use these books as springboards for games, shared activities, crafts, silly inside jokes, serious conversations.
Here’s to many more years of sharing stories.
* Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
** Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
*** Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems