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A few weeks ago, I opened one of our library books to read it to my son, when I saw a message written in it. It was to someone named Alex who explained how the book reminded them of the notes they would leave for the kid before going to work and continuing to aim for the stars. The closing of the note read, “I love you very, very much, daddy.” Christmas, 1994.
I’m not a limp person, but I almost cried. The note was so heartfelt, and maybe because I am a parent now and know how well notes are taken into account by our children, I wondered why Alex (or anyone) would donate this book in the library, and under what circumstances it happened. I wondered if the father knew. I wondered how it came into circulation (usually used books are donated to this library for book sale only). But it also made me think about parents, children and the things we share. Books are a big part of my son’s life and my life, and it made me wonder what he takes from our love of books.
Our Love library
As homeschoolers we go to the library a LOT. Like, every week or so, get at least 20 to 25 pounds at a time. We try to read 2-4 picture books a day, but now with the camp it doesn’t always happen. At night, before he went to bed, we started reading one chapter per night in a Magic School Bus chapter book or one of Zoey and Sassafras’ books.
My son got his own library card last summer, and he’s still amazed that he can come in, pick any book and go home with it. He brings his little tote bag and walks the aisles of the children, choosing his books. (It’s always funny to me who he chooses – it’s great to see what he chooses). The novelty of the library hasn’t faded yet, especially since it also has crayons to take home, as well as coloring sheets and “take out and make” crafts that change weekly. .
Going to the library is one of our “things” and we often stop by Starbucks to bring home “pumpkin leaves”. It reminds me of my own trips to the library and bookstores with my grandparents, how I still remember sitting in the aisles and picking out the books I wanted, and what a pleasure it is. was when I was able to choose several books at a time from the bookstore. These are some of my favorite memories, and I wonder if our trips to the library will be the same for my son.
What about our readings aloud?
This book inscription also made me wonder about our readings aloud. As I mentioned, we read several books a day. Since my son is 5 years old, this means that I read them mostly to him. I put them on our dining room table the night before, and I know I picked a good one when I hear “ooohhhhh! When he goes out in the morning. Depending on our schedule, these can either start our day, be read during rest after camp or during a downtime after dinner.
As he gets older, he becomes a more active participant: he reads words he knows, repeats key lines of the story and asks questions. He snuggles next to me, resting his head on my arm sometimes, and I know those days will be over before I know it, even though I hate when people tell me that.
I know what I’m going remember all of this. I wrote about how books helped us communicate when he was younger, and I will always look back and laugh the moment I found him stacking a stack of his books and pretending to take a picture of them with his Fisher-Price. cell phone, after seeing me do the same for an Instagram photo. When he read his first BOB book on his own, I remember how wide his smile was a mile and how he insisted on reading it to each of his grandparents via Skype and FaceTime.
But aside from all the benefits of reading aloud to children, what will it take to his heart? Will he see a book we read often – We Are Water Protectors or I Talk Like a River – in years and years and will he be brought back to our easy home school mornings with the light passing? through the blinds and the smell of my coffee in the air? When he walks past the library, will he smile as he remembers our many trips and the crafts we’ve done? How many years do I have before he decides he’s “too old” to do this with me? If he has his own children, will he read a book I gave him on one of the many birthdays or holidays, possibly inscribed with a message?
I do not know. And it’s good. For now, we have a whole new stack of library books to browse.