Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Have a carrot," said the mother bunny.

Cheaper by the Dozen. A Little Princess. The Princess Bride. All beloved in that deep, emotional way that goes beyond the objective, and all books my mother read to me. We had a nightly reading ritual that lasted well into middle school, most books chosen because they were her old favorites, A Little Princess selected because Sara started as "a new girl" and I was about to move to New Jersey.

If I remember correctly, All of a Kind Family was the first chapter book we read together. It was definitely the first chapter book I read on my own, by virtue of my sneakily reading ahead when my mom went to check on my chicken-poxed sister. Other than that incident, though, I never dreamed of reading ahead, other than letting my eyes jump across the spread as I sat at my mother's side, anticipating how she'd handle the very occasional bad word. (Yeste of The Princess Bride "sits there on his world-class mmmph!")

There were a few duds that we loved to dislike together, a few mystery series that didn't quite live up to her memories. But nearly every book we read together became a favorite, and I later read most of them to my four-years-younger sister. (I also read her a few things we couldn't tell our mother we were reading. But I think she turned out okay, given that she graduated from college this afternoon.)

The read-alouds petered out, but during my high school years, my mother and I came full circle, becoming volunteer readers in the waiting room of a local health clinic. We developed a Where the Wild Things Are routine that involved the roaring of terrible roars and the gnashing of terrible teeth. Children's books became our thing, a thing it was our job to share with the world. "Oh, yeah, children's books," I said to myself. "You know, I really like these."

Thanks, Ima. Happy Mother's Day.

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