Monday, January 23, 2012

Read to Me

"Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away..."

And so began the sleepytime ritual for five children of a certain age. They would toddle over to the bookshelf, pull down the volume of choice, and snuggle up for a story (or three). I will never forget the coziness and special-ness of those moments. I introduced them to the classics--Rosemary Wells, Dr. Seuss, Arnold Lobel--and loved every second of the telling. Not so much? When they would haul over the humongous Richard Scarry book of Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, endlessly poring over the big pages looking for the hidden Goldbug, or when they went on a Disney book jag (note to whoever penned these over-long and atrocious treatments of Walt's movies--101 Dalmatians was 101 pages at least--I hid your books and pretended to have lost them!)

 I figured once they were in school, that would be that. They'd learn to read and would need me no more. But (whew) they still loved being read to. Julie in particular had a favorite favorite series, Junie B. Jones, the adventures of a precocious--some might say obnoxious--young lady. I used to "do" all the different character voices, and for some reason Jules was charmed by my rendition of Junie B. So much so, that she asked me to come into her class and read from those books right up through 3rd grade. Don't know if the other tykes got quite the charge that she did, but everyone was always very nice, and asked me to come back with more tales of Junie and friends.

Since I was pretty young myself, I always LOVED to read aloud. Vivid memories include reading my sisters (then 10 and 13) Gone with the Wind in its entirety, on the back deck of our house the year we lived in Massachusetts. Took weeks. Lost my voice in the end. Well worth it.

When Evan was a freshman in high school, he began to get headaches, just about every day. It was hard for him to concentrate on schoolwork at all, reading in particular. I felt for him, but wasn't sure what I could do to help. Finally one day, it dawned on me: read to him! And so began another marathon Gone with the Wind performance (accents, differentiated characters and all). Every night, I opened that much-loved book and began to tell the next chapter of the story. My poor kid lay on the sofa in pain, but listening, always listening. As I would discover, Rose and PJ, in an adjacent room, were listening too. When the indomitable Scarlett intoned, "Tomorrow is another day!" I closed the volume reluctantly. I knew it marked the end of my read-a-thons with my children, and it hurt.

Today, they are all avid readers, so I guess my job was done well enough. But who will cuddle with me tonight, when this baby-sick mom reaches for Goodnight Moon one more time?

Elise reading "Jolly Mon" to Rose (and Julie if she's listening:)
Steve reading "Just Dad and Me" to Sheridan


  1. Sometimes when I read to Nora and Levi, I think of you as I create character voices and dig up an enthusiasm that only you can inspire!

  2. Aww, thanks Alicia--makes my day! Love seeing your two cuties come up for children's message!