Sunday, October 3, 2010

of reading and baby books

Yesterday, I spent a whole day at a seminar swamped with info on unschooling teens, college acceptance, and the risks and joys of "delight-directed" learning. Thank heavens we aren't quite at the point of college applications. It's been a rough year, but also enlightening. Dear daughter, who has always claimed she had no interest in writing (not having time for it due to shark studies), suddenly announced she'd started writing a story and asked if she could read it to me. Of course I was delighted, and astonished that the kid has a terrific grasp of dialog, setting, and the gripping scene. No character development yet, and the plot has not been revealed, but doggone it, I'm so proud of her.

How did she learn this wonderful stuff? She reads. Book after book after book. Many of them she reads over and over and over (Harry Potter books at our house have extremely frayed covers). She reads mysteries, romance, history, horse books, funny books, and books on sharks and oceanography. She's well known by our local librarians.

When she was an infant there were just a couple of things I wanted to see in her life as she grew: a love of God and desire to be his intimate friend, and a love of books. The first, of course, is a lifelong goal for us. The second was apparent from a very young age.

When she was a few months old, I used to take her in her stroller into a large bookstore near us and roll her over to the children's books. I'd hold up a book and if she showed any enthusiasm for it, that was a take home. Sandra Boynton was a fast favorite, and still is, for both of us. My baby loved books and wanted me to read to her for hours, something I was happy to do for a large part of each day.

What makes a book interesting to a baby may be pretty close to what appeals to adults. The covers may get us to pick it up, but the rhythym, the emotion (Boynton's humor and the sweetness of her books like The Going To Bed Book, for example), a story that engages us, and a character to whom we can relate make it an experience we want.

That's the kind of book I'm aiming for. I just hope I can keep up with Boynton.