When I went to the hospital to have my son, I took many things with me; fresh clothes, a cute outfit for him, a loofah, and Slaughterhouse V by Kurt Vonnegut – a girl’s gotta read right? So while I nursed my son I read, I didn’t have the best breastfeeding experience but that part I enjoyed. Within a few days I was reading all manner of fiction to my son. Things bearing his name like Toby and the Secrets of the Tree, but also Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and Robert McCloskey’s Time of Wonder. I needed to not go insane and he needed to hear my voice, so I read these longer works for children instead of Each Peach Pear Plum. When he started grabbing at things, he was given a cloth book with black and white images, he loved it. Then slowly he grew, and instead of wanting to simply hear my voice, he wanted to interact with the words on the page. So we brought in Dear Zoo, That’s Not My Teddy and other such things. Lift the flap books proved to be very popular.
At bed time, I carried on reading to him from books for older children, though none as wordy as The Wind in the Willows. I chose Curious George as our first big endeavour, interspersed with more from Mcloskey such as Make Way for Ducklings, and also things like The Tiger Who Came To Tea and Hugless Douglas. But it was Curious George that I loved, and as it turned out, he did too. About a week after we had completed the original stories, he saw a boy carrying a monkey and yelled out “George! George!” This told me several things about my son. Firstly, he liked George! Secondly, he had actually been listening to the words I spoke instead of just listening to my voice. Thirdly, he was able to connect a 2D character from a book with an “actual” monkey. Given that he had never said the word “George” before that moment, I was impressed with his ability to connect something from one aspect of his life to something rather peripheral.
We continue to read Curious George but we also mix it up with the many other books in his ever growing library. At the moment he has two new favorites. A mummy-inflicted-experience is The Moomins by Tove Janson, which we have not started reading in full yet but of which he has several board and lift-the-flaps books. It’s a nice introduction to the peculiar characters that I loved in my childhood, and I know he will appreciate the stories more once we get to them because of these beginner books. Of late, he has also taken an interest in Thomas the Tank Engine. We had a few of the newer stories, but I toddled off to my local library to get the complete works of Rev. Awdrey. Thanks to a new nighttime ritual of his, he screamed through the first two stories, but on the third night he stood up in his crib, pointed and said “Thomas? Thomas?” before calmly sitting through a new story. Our morning ritual is now to sit on the loveseat and read Thomas stories from his smaller books. Sharing a good story with him is one of the things that I love about motherhood.
Next on the list? Badjelly the Witch of course!