I have been preparing for the day when I would have a little reader of my own since long before he was a twinkle in my eye. Probably since I was in high school and thought that running an independent children's bookstore was my life's calling. That was before I actually worked in the children's section of a large chain bookstore and discovered that the ninth circle of hell is, in fact, having to reshelve the children's section after closing time on a Saturday night. Nonetheless, I had a lot of treasured children's book stored up just waiting for the day when I could read them with my little boy.
Although the experts encourage you to read to your babies from Day One, as every parent know, actually reading to your baby isn't so easy those first few months. Babies don't have a very long attention spans, and, at least in my experience, they think books were better made for stacking or tearing or chewing than reading. And if you're a bibliophile like me, it's hard to watch your favorite children's book become an afternoon snack.
But, time flies, and before I knew it Colin was a year old and overnight he emerged a fully-fledged reader. I mean we literally woke up one morning and our son had become obsessed with reading books. Now every day starts with Colin running to his little shelf and selecting a book for us to read to him. Then he climbs into our laps and starts turning the pages, as we struggle to keep up with the story. But we always follow his pacing. Usually this means we'll get to the next to the last page of a book before he turns back to the beginning and makes us start all over again. Then, he'll hop down, select another book, and we'll repeat the whole routine over again, five, ten, twenty times a morning. But, of course, I just eat it up.
This new obsession of his has taught us a lot about his preferences and intellectual capabilities, even though he's still barely verbal. Almost by accident, we discovered that he understands us well enough to answer simple questions, like where's the dog?, or which one is the baby? We've learned that he knows a lot more about animals than we thought he did. He knows what the cow and the sheep and the dog say, and he can mimic their sounds. And we've learned that he really loves rhyme and likes to play along with rhyming scheme. He claps his hands together for "Patty-cake, patty cake, baker's man," and makes the shape of a diamond with his hands for "Twinkle, twinkle little star," and mimics the onomonopiea in his favorite book, Going on a Bear Hunt.
I'm prepared that his current love of reading may just be a passing obsession, like his obsessions with stacking cups and sorting things or balls, but even if his attention wanders for a while, I'll trust that he'll come back to reading eventually. And when he does, I've got a whole bookshelf full of books waiting for him.
Forgive my husband's mismatched pajamas. Someone forgot to warn him about the Sunday-morning photo shoot.