Edited For Content – by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
My darling daughter is now 10, and although there are many things that she does for herself, she insists that still I read to her at bedtime. When she was very small, I read the words while she looked at the pictures. We had several favorites that she pulled out from the bookshelf and soon she knew them by heart.
I had picked up most of the books at the thrift shop – most of them barely worn, but a few that were well read and at one time the favorite of another child. Sometimes they would have a personal note written inside the cover, from a grandmother or aunt, “Happy Birthday to Samantha with love,” or whatever the occasion was. When Erica learned to read, and could make out the words, she asked me why some other child’s name was in her book. I explained that books are always valuable, and although the child may have outgrown them they still were waiting to be read by a smart girl like her. Only once did she mark out the other child’s name and place her own above it. After that, she seemed to accept that a book is “adoptable” and can be loved by anyone.
We read Mother Goose, Disney books, and a lot of Little Golden Books that I had saved from my childhood. I was a reader from the first word, and I have kept a lot of my favorites, like The Silver Nutmeg, and The Shades, magical stories that fed my imagination.
Gradually we moved into reading chapter books, and she would shout with excitement when a small manila envelope arrived in the mail – the latest Junie B. Jones book, Judy Moody, or a new book to add to her Weird School collection sent from Florida by her aunt Kathy. I have read with her many books that I missed during my childhood – Roald Dahl is one great author that I enjoy, and I loved reading Pippi Longstocking. Somehow I had also missed reading Beverly Clearly’s Ramona series. I had the entire collection of Nancy Drew (still do) and I read them several times each, plus a few Hardy Boys books that my grandmother gave me on a rare occasion (she favored boys, even in books I guess). The Scholastic Book order form comes home from school monthly, and there are several choices circled before it hits the kitchen table. I have always told my daughter that I would always spend money on books (she tries to sneak in a non-book item here and there, which sometimes gets added to the order). Books are a necessity in my opinion, and I am secretly glad that she refuses to read books on her iPad. It’s just not the same, she says.
Reading her an entire story at bedtime eventually became reading a chapter at bedtime. Now, as her books get more involved and detailed, the chapters are longer than ever. I have to admit that I skip over some of the content, and often the places where characters are having a long conversation. Sometimes it’s because of the topic – I condensed one book that was all about boys and clothing styles (we are not ready for that yet!) and a few times I left out a lot of boring chit chat between the characters. I do enjoy reading to her, and I know that the days are numbered to when she tells me she doesn’t want me to anymore. Mostly I just wanted to get to bed myself, but I follow our routine every night (no exceptions, ever) and tell myself that I will miss this ritual. And I will.