“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
I adore Charles William Eliot’s take on reading. It sums up, in one short sentence, the way I feel about literature. I am the person who stood waiting at the mailbox for my early delivery of Harry Potter 7. The person who read for nearly 12 solid hours until my eyes were so fuzzy I could barely make out the words, stopping only to call my friend in another state at 2 am to discuss how magnificently the characters were developed throughout the series. I am the person who can’t get rid of a book because I might need to re-read it at least three more times. The one who couldn’t stop herself from finishing another series within three days, even though I wanted to slow down. And now that you have a clear picture of how big of a nerd I am…… I just love reading. Always have. When I taught Kindergarten, I had 17 plastic milk crates filled with books in my classroom library at all times. They were switched out monthly with the other books I had kept in my storage cabinets. And then there were my “teacher books”-- the ones that were so precious, I couldn’t stand to have them “Kindergarten-ized”, so I read those books to them.
I love all books-- non-fiction and fiction, though I prefer the latter. I love getting so wrapped up the characters that I feel emotional and exhausted when a book ends. I love slipping into the mind and heart of the author while I read their words. And I’ve always felt that if you can read, you can learn anything. You can teach yourself anything. That’s why it was so important to me to instill a love for reading in my students, and now in my child. I’ve always read to Abi Kate. And I like her to see me reading. I saved almost all of those crates of books from my classroom, so she has a large library to choose from. My mom is a school librarian, so we’re never short on receiving new books either. Even my best friend’s Christmas gift to her was a Pride and Prejudice counting board book. Her first classic. (The same friend that talked with me at 2 am about Harry… Shocking? Not so much.) And as of late, if you were to walk into my house at any given moment, this is probably what you’d see…
Abi Kate’s favorite thing to do right now is read. I cannot tell you how excited I get over this (again, with a glimpse into my great nerdiness). In her waking hours, she truly spends the majority of them bringing books to me to read over and over again-- I’ve never been so thankful that I saved all those books-- I switch them out for new ones frequently. You can only read Ten Tiny Puppies so many times…. I often find her sitting down and flipping through the pages herself-- quacking at ducks, mooing at cows, meowing at cats. Sometimes, she just babbles while she turns the pages like she’s just making up her own little story. And I swear I could just sit there and watch her for hours.
I hope she always reads like this, appreciates the words and the stories. Granted, there’s no great depth to Spot pop-up book or beautifully worded phrases in The Little Red Hen, but we’ve got to start somewhere right?! ;) Poor child, she never really had a chance in this house. I’m such a believer in the benefits of environmental print and language development through books. With all these books, who needs My Baby Can Read?! Seriously, who needs it… No one. That’s who. (I almost got on a soapbox about developmentally appropriate practices and the importance of phonemic awareness and phonics…. You’ve been spared. Trust me.)
She looks like a little girl when I find her this way, not like a baby. And when she’s not reading, she’s chatting, often words she’s learned from her books. She uses about 25-30 words consistently and independently. They’re just little words right now, words that usually don’t hold great meaning to most (or many syllables for that matter haha.) But one day, I hope she comes to love the words she reads, that they teach her about life and people, that they make her laugh out loud and cry freely. I hope that she will read with intention, appreciating the way words can be woven together to create a tapestry of vitality. I hope she learns that words are powerful and that she chooses hers carefully.
I know it appears as though she's literally inhaling the book. And while I'd like to think that it's an outward expression of her hunger for books, she's really just kissing herself in the mirror on the page. ;)
Those books are already becoming her most “patient teacher.” And I love that. Even though the reading and the new words make her seem older, I still love those books.
So read on, sister! “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Dr. Seuss (Except don’t go too far… your momma can’t handle that.)