12.11.2011

just going with it

This evening I lent out my sewing machine to a friend who is hand making Christmas presents. While I applaud my friend's efforts, especially since a handmade Christmas was not her idea but she seems to be taking up the challenge with good humour, this is not my year for handmade.  I have bought stuff.  But don't be too shocked.

See, Smootch is learning to read. Or, she has learned to read and now she's refining her fluency. She reads EVERYTHING and if she's not reading it, she's insisting I read it to her. It's brilliant and fascinating and sometimes a bit annoying and I feel like she's growing into this amazing scholar right before my eyes.

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And few posts ago I wrote about how I'd just like to give books for Christmas and then over thought the whole gift giving thing a bit too much.  One comment on the post was from someone who had overheard a conversation while riding on a train (or was it a bus?) of two people discussing what to give a child for a present.  One person suggested a book and the other dismissed it quickly, 'Nah, he's already got one of those.'

Ha.

I mentioned this comment to Birdie the other day and then asked him what it would be like if he only had one book.  He looked around our house (he can survey the whole thing from his spot on the couch, remember we only have 644 square feet) and taking in the bookshelf and the other bookshelf and the pile of books beside him on the couch and the one of the floor and the drift of books over in front of the tv and my ever present book perched on the small pony wall and then the other books and the new shelf I put in above the dining table so I could put a few books up there and he said, 'We'd have so much room!'

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Ah, space to move is so overrated.  Especially if you have a cup of tea and a good book to read.  Books are all around us and there is no escape from it here.  There seems to be nothing else to do but surrender to the theme.

I've bought a cartload books from a second hand store - well kept, good quality, pretty pretty books - and will be making them kraft paper book covers to maintain some element of mystery under the tree and also give the children something to write messages on.  I'm haven't worried too much about trying to find the perfect book for each recipient.  Mysteries may be given to the romance readers.  Fiction to the history buffs.  People may have to deal with receiving a book that they would never normally pick up on their own.  Who knows, perhaps they'll discover something new to love?  And if they don't, well, they can always find somebody who could use something new to read.

Here is the back cover of a kraft paper book cover Smootch made for her friend's birthday present (a book that was chosen because it is Smootch's all time favorite book in a series that we read each night before bed).  Do you know what the book is?

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In the spirit of discovering new types of books, I've been spending more time reading children's literature.  Smootch's growing independence is reminding me that at some point she will be venturing forward without me to discover all the amazing books out there and I won't get to use her as an excuse anymore to read children's fiction the way that I have with picture books.  I love love the picture books, Margaret Wise Brown, Robert Munch, Jon Scieszka, Maurice Sendak, David Shannon, Mo Willems, and the thousands of smart, wondrous and brilliant books I've read to the kids over the past seven years.  I would of never chosen to read these books to myself without the children and even if I had, I would of gobbled them up quickly without the appreciation that grows from studying a single page of Where the Wild Things Are for ten minutes straight or the hundredth reading of Goodnight Moon.  Only a child can force us into these situations and help us see the brilliance of children's authors.  I need to thank my children for teaching me how to really look at a book and see more everytime I peer between the covers.

I have amassed a few hundred chapter books for the kids to discover as they get older.  Thinking about how much I've learnt from picture books, I've decided to follow Smootch and whatever she is reading, I will too.  Actually, technically, I've started reading ahead.  I've just finished Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox and will be picking up The Secret Garden when I'm done here.

(As I type this, The Man is sitting beside me, completely wrapped up in Roald Dahl's Matilda.  Seems like this may turn into a family journey.)

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10 comments:

  1. I LOVE Where the Wild Things Are. Also love- The Gruffalo. The mouse is my itty bitty pixie daughter, well, that's who the mouse is when I read it to her.

    You don't have to be big and strong to be the best, just a bit on the clever side.

    I hearted your post, and also have too many books.

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  2. Lemony Snicket, Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L'Engel, Neil Gaiman, Lion Witch and Wardrobe series, The Hobbit...

    You are building worlds around them with your book piles! Towers of adventures, piles of potential..oh, the eager excitement of new places and ideas:) most valuable gift, besides love and security, that you can give a child. You give them other perspectives, ideas, challenge their imagination.

    Of my five, one struggled with severe vision problems and learning disorder. At ten, she has finished her jest novel, by Roakd Dahl - and oh, the pride and joy! Our struggle journey has led to her greater journey.

    All of my brood, (25, 19, 17, 10, 8), their dad, me, read voraciously. We share books, our great weakness. The two youngest love the second hand iPad they share, loaded with magic games i carefully choose - and books, enhanced books, ebooks. Like you, such a small house, so space saving...But they also love our huge collection of books that we share still...and second hand book drop visits with grandpa are such a joy!!

    Permaclutter is life enhancing, if you choose wisely what you surround yourself with.

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  3. I read to my kids so much, I no longer read myself! (Of course, I might read more if my little one actually slept.). I, too, enjoy picture books and board books. The illustrations, the rhyming, the cute story. While my older one is reading (only at school, does not want to read to me) I think she is afraid if she starts reading herself, I won't read to her anymore. Books are always presents in our house - partly because I get tired of the same books. Occasionally, I have to hide a favorite book, because I just cannot read it again (a certain 300 page prehistoric encyclopedia).

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  4. My oldest daughter (12) is old enough to pick out her own reading, and more than once I've asked her, "What have you got that's good?" I'm more of a non-fiction reader, but I love a good YA fantasy or fiction now and again. She's got good taste in novels. :)

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  5. How was Fantastic Mr. Fox?? Reading is one thing my son definitely loves! I feel one can never have too many books!

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  6. I'm an avid reader, and have been so since childhood, years before I became a professional writer and editor. I love giving books as gifts, too, and when I was young(er), I always imagined I'd have a huge library. When I moved into my 500-sq-ft condo, I struggled with finding room for my books. At one point, my tall, cheap book shelf broke in half, and I just said, "Forget it--I'm downsizing." I started backwards--instead of paring down, I asked myself "If I could keep just 10 books, which 10 would I keep?" I've ended up with maybe 100 or so. I kept my most favorites that I return to constantly, my reference books that aren't outdated or can't easily be replaced by the Internet, and sold/donated the rest. I'm a library girl now--a bibliophile who isn't a collector. My 10-year-old stepdaughter, who'll be coming to live with us in the New Year, is an avid reader and can clear a novel a day. Luckily, her mom was a librarian before she quit her job, so she understands the value of reading and books without needing to own them. Which just means we'll all have room for art and craft supplies, I guess. ;) And for breathing. It's amazing how liberating it was to get rid of stuff once I realized they weren't as important as I thought they were.

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  7. Just wait till they are a little older - there is so much out there for teens! The Hunger Games, The Giver, House of the Scorpion, The Thief Lord, The Mysterious Benedict Society - just wait until you can dive in to a few of these...

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  8. If you can find it, you HAVE to read "Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch"

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  9. Ever since she could sit up and hold a book, my daughter has been a little reading maniac. When I sit down on the floor to play with her she brings me book after book and I read till my voice gives out.

    She has her own cabinet full of books, but I still got her another one, one of my favorites, Love You Forever.

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  10. If there was a fire we'd be in sooooooo much trouble. Our favorite bookstore is Goodwill where children's paperbacks are 25¢ and people regularly abandon Mr. Fox, Beezus and Ramona, Junie B. Jones and Little Critter. We've amassed the Little House books three times over because "Hey! who doesn't want the entire Little House Series, Chronicles of Narnia or Madeline L'engles Wrinkle Series for their birthday?" Birdie is right, if they were gone you would have so much space in the house but you would lose all those world's contained within those pages.

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