One of my favorite things to do the last few months has been reading aloud to my kids. We began reading chapter books last fall because we thought Elijah (4.5 years old at the time) might be ready for it. The first book I chose was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I remember this being a great book and thought Elijah would enjoy the relationships between all of the animals. What I didn’t remember (spoiler alert!) is that the first pages of the book start to detail how the little piglet Wilbur (one of the main characters of the book) was about to be slaughtered. Oops! I’m not about protecting my children from all of real life, but I am about protecting them from content they’re just not mature enough to handle right now. That and the fact that my kids love animals meant that this mama had to do some quick improvisation as I began reading the book!
We made it through that first chapter and Wilbur gets beyond the initial threat of his little life being ended. We were right about Elijah being ready to sit and listen to chapter books … and beyond being able to sit and listen, he loved the book! It was such great fun to sit and read together – Abigail joined in quite a bit even though she didn’t have quite the attention span, nor the comprehension, I suspect – and we read together every night when the kids were going to bed. I loved reading as a child and looked forward to sharing with and encouraging that love in my kids, and we’ve read a lot to our kids from early on in their lives. However, I never imagined myself getting to share some of my favorite chapter books with my kids as young as they currently are. It’s incredibly sweet and I experience a bittersweetness with each book we finish.
After Charlotte’s Web, we began one of my all-time favorite series; the Little House on the Prairie series. I’ve even had my mom dig out of my old copies of each book and send them over, one or two at a time. Oh, how I love those books! And it’s really fun to now read them about 2.5 decades (!) after I did the first time and catch nuances and things I can now understand because I’m reading them as an older woman, a wife, and a mother. But what I’m loving more is getting to share the stories with my son (sometimes Abigail as well). We’re now in our 4th book of the series and he is loving them! He has slowed down asking for “just one more chapter” ever since he learned to ride his big boy bike sans training wheels and wants to be riding all of the time, but there for awhile, he was asking to read together multiple times each day.
It has been an amazing thing to get caught up, as mother and son, in the lives of each member of the Ingalls family. (spoiler alert!) We were both sad when Jack, the family bulldog died. Elijah has smiled in delight and something close to pride when “Baby Carrie” says or does things that show she is getting older; he tells me, “She’s growing up, Mom! She’s really growing up!” We have talked about American Indians and a little bit about American history in regards to the Indians. We’ve learned about oxen and buggies and railroads. I’ve pointed out how different their lives are from ours; about how they would make their own house, or about how Laura and Mary were extremely excited to find a bit of candy and one penny in their stocking for Christmas (among many other details).
These are sweet days in our lives for many reasons. These moments with my son have been incredible and are a big part of the sweetness. Oh, how I am trying to drink them in because I know there will come a day, sooner than later, when he will read on his own and might not always ask his mama to read to him (although we plan to make this an ongoing family practice).
Until then … shall we read just one more chapter, son?