14 October 2012

There's a Light in the Attic With Everything On it Where the Sidewalk Ends

Our local library had a book sale the second Saturday of every month.  Among the shelves, you'll find books of every size, shape, type and genre, DVDs and CDs of the same, and even a few videos.  These are items either donated or that the library was removing from their collection.  The money goes to the Friends of the Library, and it's a great way for us to get incredibly inexpensive books to put on our shelves and swear we'll read one day.  We don't make it every month, but we do make it more often than not and have found some great finds.

A few months ago, we were looking through the large selection of children's books.  Sometimes we look to help the boys find something they might enjoy and sometimes we look to see if they have any of our childhood favorites that we hope to one day share with the boys.  Much to our surprise, we found a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  He is one of Rich's favorite authors.  I still remember fondly singing "I'm Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor" for my kindergarten graduation. So it was a must.  We brought it home and put it on the boys' shelf for a day that they would hopefully be intrigued and want to read it or have us read it to them.

About two weeks ago, Teddy found it and asked Daddy to read it.  We give the boys 2 stories (or 2 chapters for chapter books) each at bedtime. Pete usually chooses picture books, since that's pretty much his level.  Teddy varies wildly from favorite kids books (like the incomparable Big Plans by Bob Shea - which I actually enjoy more than his Dinosaur Vs books) to graphic novels to early reader chapter books and, sometimes, even older chapter books.  (We're currently working our way very slowly through the 39 Clues series).  Most of these, he'll read by himself during the day, but he prefers to have us read them to him at night.

Every night, for the last two weeks, that has been what Teddy's wanted as his stories.  Rich uses the equivalent of 6 to 8 pages counting as a story, so they'd been reading 16 pages a night.  And the other night, when we got to the end of the book, Teddy asked his dad (since Daddy's been doing more of the reading duties lately because of my back) if they could start over again at the beginning.  Teddy has found his first truly favorite book.

Saturdays are our library days and usually a family affair.  But Rich had some important work he needed to do and he needed peace and quiet to do it in, so I took the boys by myself to the library.  Both Rich and I had books to pick up (for Rich The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean and for me, How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran) so I headed over to the holds section while the boys went to the children's and juvenile sections to pick out their own two allotted books.  I could trust Pete to be quiet for that long (though, sadly, it didn't last much longer than that and I had to rush us out without a chance to browse myself, but that isn't what this story is about).  Pete picked out a couple books that he found in the juvenile non-fiction section (a usual occurrence when he follows Teddy, but one I don't discourage), and I expected Teddy to come back with his usual choices of a couple graphic novels.  Instead, he proudly showed me A Light in the Attic and Every Thing On It, both by Shel Silverstein.  He told me that while he was looking for the graphic novels, he spotted these two books and changed his mind.  He had something new for Daddy to read at bedtime.

But that wasn't the end of it.  After we got to the car, both boys buckled into their seats and me ready to pull out of the parking space to head for lunch, Teddy started reading poems from the book to Peter and I.  He put the same amount of feeling into the words as Rich and I do when we read to him. He was living in the poems, feeling how he knew they should be spoken.  At stop lights, he'd ask me to glance quickly at the illustrations as he held the book up.  And I loved him for it.

Reading to us is a fairly new development for him.  Teddy's been able to read since he was about 2 1/2, surprising his PDO teachers and the elementary teachers he's had so far with his vocabulary and word recognition.  When I take electronics away from him for whatever reason, he'll gravitate immediately to the books.  And sometimes, he'll read even when he has electronics permission. (Believe me, I'm trying to get more reading and playing time and less staring at a screen time.  He's getting better, but he's not completely there yet.)  Now, he would read to Pete, sharing some of his favorite story books from when he was Pete's age and younger.  But if Rich and I were in the room, one of us would be the designated reader.  We'd ask him if he wanted to read and he'd say, "No.  I'll lay in my bed and listen."  One night, he told us that he wanted to read Big Plans as a family - I'd take the narrative, he'd read the boys' lines, Rich would read the other lines spoken by people and Pete would chime in with the myna bird's "I'm in!"  It was a step.  And him reading in the car was another step.

My boy is a lover of books and a teller of stories.  I hope this is something that he never loses.