Monday, March 26, 2012

The Reading Mystique

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.” ~ Jacqueline Kennedy ~

I have a crystal clear memory of my older sisters reading when I was a little girl. I wasn't able to read and I just knew that I was missing out on something crazy-cool. Since I didn't know how to read I did the next best thing, I would take books and run my finger along the lines reading the words that I did know. It is puzzling to me that I kept at it because the stories, when read through my lens, amounted to a lot of, ‘the, and, of, it, if, so, to,' and well, you get the idea. Not so exciting. Unlike now, in those days kids didn't enter kindergarten reading War and Peace; first grade was the place for that. It was with great anticipation that I went to first grade convinced that I would come home finally able to read all those books that, up to this point, were like buried treasure that I was unable to dig up. But as you can probably guess I didn't come home reading that first day. Truthfully, I didn't learn to read until second grade despite my intense desire to learn. I had a first grade teacher who didn't much care for me and who punished me for not understanding how to do something by keeping me in from recess to "think about what I didn't understand." It was a sad circumstance that I may blog about in the future. I somehow managed to make it through first grade, never once being able to read. By the second week of grade two, I was not only reading but I had also been moved to an advanced reading class and I never looked back.

             A favorite book of mine given to me by my oldest sister


Hansel and Gretel

The pictures are so well done and beautiful

Despite my bumpy beginning with reading, I have had a life-long love for books. We always had books at home, my mom loved to read, and of course my sisters read. At one point, my sister, Kat, was reading All Creatures Great and Small, while she was sick with mononucleosis, and one minute she would be laughing uproariously, and the next needing a tissue to dry her eyes. Word of advice: if you have never read James Herriot’s books, walk, don’t run, to the nearest bookstore (or just log on to Amazon) and get the first in his series which is the one mentioned above. You will not be sorry, although you may rediscover your solar plexus. =)

My mom read out loud to us and the variety was something to behold. She regaled us with the outlandish tales of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty Macdonald, thrilling missionary stories that captured our imagination, countless adventures of the Sugar Creek Gang and so many more. Even as adults we loved to hear mom read. It is never wasted time to read to your children. You will open up worlds, vistas, situations, and people that will broaden their horizons and stay in their memory for a life time.

We were fortunate to have a branch library about two blocks from where we lived. I am pretty sure that I read every book that small library offered. I would drag home as many books as I could carry and devour them long before the date due stamped inside the front cover. I was an energetic child, (people who knew me would probably see this as a gross understatement) but I always read and living in Washington there were plenty of days where outdoor play wasn’t an option.

I didn't discover this book until I was homeschooling my girls
and because of it I still would love to learn to draw and paint nature.
So inspiring and gorgeous.
As a younger child, many summers I was fortunate to be able to visit my aunt and uncle on their 100-acre wood farm. A lot of my time was spent outdoors swinging from a rope in the hay barn, exploring in the woods, or riding the horse. But on the days that rain came to visit there was a perfect alternative. Downstairs in the basement of their old farmhouse was a room which was covered from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, jam packed with books. In the middle was an old over-stuffed chair with a cozy afghan. My aunt and uncle raised five kids so there were plenty of books to read and I whiled away many happy hours in that room.

 While many people embrace the philosophy that children should only read classics, I cannot agree with them. Children should be taught to love reading, and great care should be used to avoid making it an ordeal. I am not saying they should be allowed to read drivel, not one bit. What I am saying is that if you allow them to read for enjoyment and gradually expose them to classics and other good reading material you will have given them a precious gift. Samuel Johnson said it best, “A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” Come to think of it, this is a great philosophy for education in general. And that, my friends, is a topic for another day.

Little Red Riding Hood.
This is what they called a "Peep Show" book. It is amazing in its 3-D depth and detail.
 Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of my photography skills. Still one one my all-time favorites.

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”

                                                                   ~ A C Grayling ~

Friday, March 16, 2012

Making Memories

Is there anything more delightful than the conversations that take place between an adult and a young child? The following are little snippets of conversations between Scott, me, and our grandson, Janzen.

Me-Me to J:  What would you like for breakfast?
J: Pizza.

J to Papa: Where is all your hair?
Papa: Your mommy made me lose it all.
J talking to himself: I need to put on my glasses so I can see. (Of course, J doesn't wear glasses he just hears the various grandparents say this).

Scene: J and Papa sitting side-by-side on the couch.

J: Say 'scuse me.
Papa: 'Scuse me.

Papa: I don't know how to play this game.
J: You just have to move the stylus, hon. (Said in his most patient 3 year old voice).

Me-Me: Let's wash you up.
J: I don't like being clean, I LIKE being dirty.

And randomly:   J: Can you help me get back to the main menu?

We had a wonderful week with Janzen at our house. My heart is full and I hope that J will have memories of it for a long time to come. He discovered our pool and spent a lot of time in it with his Papa. We read stories, J is a big fan of Dr. Seuss. We walked to the park where J made a new friend named Blaze that played on the equipment with him and Papa. We played with J's innumerable matchbox cars, made roads out of rocks on the patio and had a substantial excavation site. He is our first grandchild and such a delight to have around.

Kallista who is affectionately referred to as Bobber, Bobbi or any derivative you can think of,  is a water baby through and through. She floated around the pool happily for long periods of time. While she didn't stay with us we got to see her quite a bit and we were delighted to spend time with her. Though she looks a lot like J in many ways she definitely has her own little personality, mostly a sunny one. While she had a cold while she was here and was teething she was still a happy little girl. She loves her brother and works hard to keep up with him. She is just this side of walking and can get anywhere she wants to go without any trouble. Next time we see her she will no doubt be walking and giving J a run for his money! Kallista is a delightful treasure and I feel so blessed to have her in my life.
Sadly, our time had to come to  and end. Yesterday we drove Heather and the kids to the airport and said good-bye, I managed not to cry until we had left the airport. It was 1000 times worse when we got home because there were reminders of J in every room. Today has been a quiet day, too quiet. One grows used to the childish chatter and amazing laughter of a child very quickly and although Facetime is a wonderful thing it cannot replace the real presence of a child. We love you Janzen and Kallista, can't wait till next time!