Do you even READ?

I dreamed about books last night.

Not just any books, though. I dreamed about two of the four most-read books in my house approximately twenty years ago: Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.

When my children were babies, I chose what I would read to them, and I read to them every day. When they were too small to care, I would read aloud from whatever my current selection was. I can’t pinpoint what I read when because I’ve always tended to mix things up and I never worry about reading something as soon as it comes out – books are timeless, after all. But I know how I have always read so they were getting a selection of chick lit, mysteries, classics, science fiction, romance, coming of age, biographies…. there is very little I will not read.

When they were a little older, I would guess around 16 months, they started picking what they wanted to hear. We soon worked out a habit of sorts where they would pick a book and I would pick a book. They chose to hear the same books over and over. The earliest choices were Goodnight Moon (my daughter) and Runaway Bunny (my son). I read one or both of those books aloud every day for months at a time.

In a slightly hilarious and mildly inexplicable aside, I cannot recite either of them now. I imagine the kids can.

Their choice, then mine. That’s how it went. I chose things like Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. You get the picture. I would read a chapter or two every night. And I never read them to sleep. I would leave them, heavy-lidded and dreamy-eyed, clutching a cloth or board book, and they would fall asleep on their own.

I like to think I helped them people their dreams. I know I taught them to be readers, and that is a beautiful thing.

Being readers sets them apart from the norm. They are never bored, have massive vocabularies, speak clearly and understandably, comprehend quickly, have active and sometimes dreamy imaginations. They also tend to be snarky grammar Nazis, especially with that we call “Big Wordigans,” those who use big words incorrectly. I no longer correct people unless they ask me to, as Wayne does. The kids have not yet learned that other people are only going to get angry, especially if they are their father and/or step-mother. 

And so. I saw a picture of the Two Best Books Ever (Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny, of course) on Facebook yesterday, and they popped up in a dream. I saw the pages of the board books and heard the piping and sweet voices of my toddler-aged children reciting them with me as I read. I heard them mispronouncing things (gardener became darkener, one of my favorites). I felt their warm and heavy heads on my arms, their little hands relaxed and still on my legs, their stirring breathing that was never in sync. I smelled the baby shampoo I had washed their hair with earlier, the fabric softener from their pajamas. I woke up with all of those fresh in my head and a huge smile on my face.

I wonder what those memories are like for them?


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