Saturday, March 5, 2011

I had a (mother) who read to me...

Well, sorry for the break but I've not been quite my usual self so blogging got put by the wayside until I had some energy.

I've been thinking about baby gifts, because I have friends who are expecting. Usually I give them copies of books. "Good Night Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny" are most common, but if I know they have those books, any books that catch my eye. I almost always give copies of the cardboard types, so the babies may enjoy the books and mom and dad don't have to worry about torn pages.

I have to admit, I am a bookworm of the first order. My husband has often threatened to leave me if I bring home ONE more book (he hasn't left yet, BTW...). But I do have books and books and books. So do my children. I fully believe that kids have the right to own books, their own books - that they choose, read, mutilate, whatever.

From baby-time on, either my husband or I read nightly to our children. Early on, the books were the traditional - "Pat the Bunny", "Good Night Moon", "The Runaway Bunny". We had bought several of the cardboard-type books at one of the big superstores and the children both loved being read those books and being allowed to "read" them whenever they wanted.

Our eldest caused quite a fuss one night. I was at work and she was demanding that her father read 'hush book' to her. Unfortunately, he hadn't a clue what she meant. He finally called me at work, and I told him that she wanted "Good Night Moon" - her version of the title was due to the fact that I always emphasized the word hush when reading the sentence "...the quiet old lady whispering hush..."

Later on, we wandered into other books. We read Beatrix Potter (and had some beautiful VHS tapes of the books; unfortunately who has VHS any more? We still have the tapes). We read Dr Seuss. I don't know when my children learned to read but I know that it was well before school age. We also belonged, for a while, to one of those "Children's Book of the Month" Clubs and got some very charming books that way. Unfortunately, the children grew but the age of the club's reading material didn't, so eventually we dropped the club.

Books were never forbidden to the children. If they wanted to read them, they could. If they got bored or disliked the book, they put them back. The only requirement was that they handled it with care.

Reading material was never censored, either. Babysitter's Club books (all types), Goosebumps, American Girl, Alcott, Tamara Pierce, Caroline Cooney, Nora Roberts, J.D. Robb, Tolkien, J.K Rowling...whatever they wanted to read, they could. I found new authors from them and they learned new authors from me. We discussed books and events. Fiction, nonfiction, graphic books (there was a period when it seemed we owned every manga book on earth), they were all allowed.

So...reading material. What do you read to your kids? What do you allow them to read? Do you have trouble with getting your kids to read? Do they like to read or hate it?


  1. My boy is not-quite-two and still far too impatient to be read to, unfortunately. But I keep plenty of books around and he loves looking through them himself, pointing to pictures and letters that he recognizes.

    There are lots of cute little-kid books out there, but I'm looking forward to the type of stuff I'll get to read to him a few years from now. My mom read to us a lot when we were kids; our favorites were the Fudge series and the Ramona Quimby series (both by Beverly Cleary, I believe). One writer I really enjoyed was Edward Eager, who wrote books about magical things happening to groups of kids. His books have that subtle, snarky underlying humor that makes it fun for grownups to read, too.

    I started reading horror fiction in fourth grade (over my religious mother's objections) and within a couple of years I had read every Stephen King book in the public library. I imagine my boy will have a similar fascination with the macabre, and I have no problem with that. There will be no censorship of reading materials in this house.

  2. The Fudge series was Judy Blume, but I agree that it was a great series.

  3. My Dad is in air freight. Over the years, there would be shipments that went unclaimed and he'd bring home the booty. Once we got a bunch of random books and I grabbed one to read at school. My 3rd grade teacher confiscated my copy of Sidney Sheldon's "The Sands of Time" just when it started getting good. Bummer.

    That shipment also contained "A Brief History of Time" - but it took me a few more years until I was able to tackle that one.

  4. @misshum22: Did you ever get it back? While my mom would have disapproved of my reading during school, she would have been REALLY annoyed if the teacher took my book and didn't give it back. (IIRC, when I was about your 3rd grade age, I was reading "The Other Side of Midnight" but I couldn't take it to school because school hours was when my mom was reading it...

  5. ha ha - yes, I got it back at the end of the day with a stern warning not to bring it back. My mom had no idea I had it, but never paid attention to what books I was reading (let alone tried to censor them.)