Reading Rainbow

I believe in laying a good educational foundation at an early age. :)

I’ve always loved reading. I remember devouring “chapter books” at an early age, eager to work my way through the next Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High or Fear Street in the series. In fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Griggs, took an interest in my passion for reading and lent me a leather-bound copy of Heidi. I was so excited (teacher’s pet) and felt so special–until my dog Abby chewed the corners of Mrs. Grigg’s precious gift. Crap. I held onto it much longer than I needed to, avoiding returning it and facing my teacher’s disappointment. (Eventually I had my mom call and talk to her before giving it back. I was a chicken.)

That one experience (plus the one where Abby also chewed up a book on dog training I had checked out from the library–no joking!) has always stuck with me, leaving me with three valuable lessons: 1. Books, words, are precious and powerful, 2. They are meant to be used, not to be placed on a pedestal marked “Look, but don’t touch!” and 3. Books should be passed on to others.

In light of these lessons, it should come as no surprise that I’ve bought about a bajillion books for E.V. already. (Truthfully I must acknowledge that they’re for myself, considering Emma Vance looks at them as paper objects meant to be chewed right now.) Her attention span is short, but as we were reading through her board books so quickly, I began to be antsy for something more substantial. Eventually I figured that if she didn’t understand the books anyway, I might as well read something I’m interested in, right? Right. So last Thursday I ordered a set of children’s classics from Puffin, excited both about their design and their content. They came in at the beginning of the week, and after much debate with E.V., we decided to read The Wizard of Oz first.

Emma Vance can only do a few pages at a time right now, but if she’s happily playing with her toys, I’ll sit down near her and just read out loud, hoping she’s catching on to the wonderful story being woven around her. The strange thing is that even though I was an avid reader as a child, I somehow missed a lot of the classic books kids “should” read, so these stories, though familiar, are new to me too. I hope that even though she’s just listening to learn my inflection and my vocabulary right now, eventually these books will come alive to her, that she’ll find a passion for the written word at an early age just like I did.

Oh, and if Oscar or Olive chews up one of her borrowed books as a child, yes, I’ll be glad to call her teacher and explain on her behalf.  Ha!

P.S. Although Ryan’s relationship with reading was formed more so by enjoying Reading Rainbow, he’s on board as well, reading some of the shorter books to Emma Vance. While I am here to ensure that E.V. respects A. A. Milne, Ryan is here to ensure she respects LeVar Burton, a goal of his I’m on board with! :)

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