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Bedtime Stories

April 15, 2010

Hey! You guys? It’s tax day and if you haven’t sent yours in you’d better get on that crap.

Tax day is boring. Everything about it is boring, even the forms. I hate those forms and I’ll usually read anything.

I have always loved books. My parents read to me all.the.time. growing up, I remember bringing a book to my mother for what must have been the 5,891st time, and her deciding that it was high time someone taught this crazy 4 year old to read already! So she did and I was off to the races.

I’ve always been surrounded by books and as a young person had a voracious appetite for the written word. Much to Mom’s dismay I threw actual fits when I was made to leave books behind to come to dinner, eventually resorting to hiding paperbacks in my waistband so I could sneak read under the table. She caught on to me, so I improvised and requested new cereal before the boxes were empty just so I could have new boxes to read. Reading to Piper is one of my favorite things to do in this whole entire world, and I think she loves it too. I don’t know what other people use their glider pockets for, but ours are always full of books.

A lot of those books that I grew up surrounded by are rather old, and actually live in my house now which means a lot to me. There are books here for me to read to my daughter that were not only read to me as a child but to my parents as children as well.

Just in general, I have this thing about old stuff; I like to actually use it. It bothers me when people throw well made things away, or replace them merely because they are older and don’t look new anymore. I think old things are beautiful and that they don’t have to be in perfect shape to serve their purpose. So, those old books we’ve got lying around here? They’ve got to earn their keep.

We started reading short stories to Piper at bedtime when she was around 4 months old. Our early favorite, and still my very favoritest of favoritey favorites is The Elephant’s Child, by Rudyard Kipling:

The writing is of course, wonderful. I mean, it’s Rudyard Kipling, just try to screw that up. It rolls off the tongue like honey wine, you can’t stop it. And to top it off, the illustrations are amazing.

This particular book was mine as a child, which was when it came by this awesome autograph (Yes, I’ve been lying to all of you. My first name is actually Karen. But no one except my parents has called me that since Middle school, I swear.)

But to me, the best part of this book? Is the inscription.

Family consensus seems to be that Nancy’s godchild would have been my dad’s oldest sister Anne, who passed away last year. This book was given to her as a gift by her Godmother years before my Father was even born. It was undoubtedly read by their father, my most excellent grandfather who died when I was in high school and for whom Piper Josephine is (middle) named. We told our family members early on that we always loved to receive books, but we really love when they’re inscribed by the sender.

It’s a great book. It’s got everything! Danger, humor, lessons on stuff like manners, and sticking up for yourself and cleaning up your messes, and embracing the things that make you unique. It’s fabulous in every way. It’s still in print but I don’t think the new illustrations can touch my vintage copy.

And now, I read it to my daughter. And I always take extra care with what I’m told was my Grandpa’s favorite line: “For he was a tidy pachyderm”.

I’ll make sure she does too.

Do you read to your children? Do you remember being read to by your parents? Piper will sit and “read” for long stretches of time. The other day I watched her sit down with a board book. She flipped a page, studied it, flipped it back and then turned the book right side up and kept “reading”. I should probably just start saving my cereal boxes now, you think?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 7:08 am

    We have been reading to Teva since day one. She loves it! I so enjoy it, and I hope she takes after me nd my literary appetite! My mom actually put index cards on everything in the house….couch, chair, table, etc….and that’s how I learned to read. I plan on doing the same with Teva.

  2. Tanya permalink
    April 15, 2010 7:30 am

    Reading was always huge in our house, too. We had a few books that were family favorites and, to this day, hold a special place in our hearts. A few years ago, for Hanukkah, we went out and bought new copies of some of those books (the ones we couldn’t find in the house), wrapped them, and read them to our mom after she opened them. Needless to say, that was a huge hit. So keep reading to Piper – it’ll make a lasting impression.

  3. April 15, 2010 8:14 am

    Oh I LOVE reading to J! He actually gets quiet and loves to watch me turn the pages. I’m the weirdo who started reading short stories to him every night when I was pregnant, though. It gave me something to look forward to and I had an old book of Disney stories from when I was a kid… I used it to count down the days until he arrived. (There were 75 stories).

  4. April 15, 2010 11:30 am

    Old books smell the best, too!

  5. April 15, 2010 11:37 am

    Those illustrations are beautiful! We just added reading to our bedtime routine and I’m excited about it!

  6. thenextmartha permalink
    April 15, 2010 6:44 pm

    That is so awesome to have such a great family treasure to share with your daughter. We try and read but most of the board books get ripped to shreds. I have even used a hole punch and zip ties to put one back together.

    • April 15, 2010 8:43 pm

      I have a pop up book post planned, Jen… there were sacrifices made.

  7. April 15, 2010 8:54 pm

    we read to ella everyday…and she “reads” to herself everyday too. for my baby shower everyone was asked to bring a book for her bookshelf….so before she was even born we had quite the collection going. i am really looking forward to reading her each and everyone!

    growing up my dad use to tell us “talking stories” (thats what we called them) he was the best storyteller. sometimes it would be a known fairytale or sometimes he would make them up as he went.
    always so animated…which was the best part…he did ALL the voices. i wish he was here to tell “talking stories” to ella.

  8. Mandy permalink
    April 16, 2010 3:19 am

    but do you read on when you’re pooping? i need to know. when i was little i would read the back of the shampoo bottles that i could reach from the toilet.

    you’re welcome.

    what a darling book.

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