Books, children, reading list

Expanding Her Horizons

We recently did some rearranging in our house so that Joy and Grace could have separate rooms. This, sadly, will last only for while we remain here, in this nice roomy four-bedroom house. Once Carl starts seminary and we’re living in campus housing, it’ll be back to sharing! For now, though, they both seem to be thriving on the separation.

Joy, in particular, delights in having her own space. One of the first things I did was take the tiny bookcase that had been removed from their shared bedroom after I found them trying to use it to leapfrog between beds (and it, shockingly enough, crashed and narrowly missed Grace) and put it in her room. Her special picture books are on the bottom shelf, tiny books like Beatrix Potter and Brambly Hedge are on the top shelf, and the middle shelf is reserved for big girl, read-aloud books. Books that Grace would lose interest in after two pages, but Joy is finally old enough to listen to while someone else reads. Books like The Secret Garden, Betsy-Tacy, The Wind in the Willows, Five Little Peppers, Swiss Family Robinson, Hitty, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Railway Children, etc.

This is real life. A few book jackets displaced, the Frances books on the floor because she was reading them most recently, and Bunny Douglas forlornly squeezed between the bed frame and the book case.

This edition of Anne of Green Gables took its place on the shelf on Christmas Day (Grace received Peter Pan).

The book I placed on the shelf with the most secret hope was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. That was the very first long book I ever read all by myself, and it is the book that started my lifelong love of fantasy. I so want my girls to love it as well! But I didn’t say anything to anyone, not wanting to influence Joy, and in fact didn’t even push any of the books on that shelf. I borrowed Little House in the Big Woods from the library and we started reading that together, but I left the middle shelf alone.

Then, one night, out of the blue, after Grace was tucked in and Carl came into Joy’s room to tuck her in, she handed him The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and said “Daddy? Can we start reading this?”

Carl’s never read it either, so now BOTH of them are experiencing (and enjoying) it for the first time. Both of them (separately) tend to come and fill me in on what they just read. Carl is mostly blown away with how different it is from the movie. “This is SO MUCH better!” he enthused. “Why did they even call the movie ‘based’ on the book, anyway?” The other night Joy chattered to me all about how Dorothy melted the Wicked Witch with a pail of water and won back her sparkly shoes, and how the Cowardly Lion isn’t really scary, he just pretends to be scary so he won’t be scared by everything else, and isn’t it silly that there’s a man made of tin instead of skin?

And I am dancing with glee.

Only a few more years before we can start reading Lewis, Tolkien, and Alexander!

If I keep thinking of more books to add, eventually we’re going to need a bigger bookshelf.

16 thoughts on “Expanding Her Horizons”

  1. Aw! That's so great. You were right now to push it on them but let them discover it naturally. I made that mistake with the little house books and now the girls won't go near them. But they asked me to read the Indian in the Cupboard and were completely enthralled the whole time.

  2. It's so thrilling. They just finished the last two chapters last night (Joy loved, loved, loved the ending), and I'm so excited to see what they'll pick to read next.

  3. It's so hard for me not to say "READ THIS IT'S WONDERFUL," but it really is more thrilling to see what she picks out on her own, and what sort of stories draw her in.As long as they aren't Disney princesses. Those I will Share my Opinion on. Quite freely, in fact!

  4. Oh Laura, you have to read the book! It's funny (a lot of the word play is meant for adults, goes right over kids' heads) and clever, and so much richer than the movie. Which is charming in its own way, but doesn't have half the funny, old-fashioned, pure good fun feel of the book.

  5. I LOVE reading about your girls' introductions to literature. It gives me all sorts of dreams for doing it with Baby A. I am so happy that Joy got Anne for Christmas…it is a book that changed my life and led me to you and so many other great friends. I wonder where it will lead her?

  6. Imagine that, that your kids would crash around on the furniture… lol. My sister and I broke my parents bed while watching gymnastics during the 2000 Olympics (and yes, I was WAAAAY to old to still be jumping on the bed… oops).That's so cool that your daughter is now experiencing the same books you loved. Awwwww.

  7. My kids tipped this huge dresser over during "naptime" a few months ago. Huge crash. J and I both ran upstairs and the two of them were just standing there looking like "Oh, imagine that, I wonder why that happened."

  8. No problem! My kids are stubborn little things (clearly, they get that from their father, since I am obviously amiable and reasonable – HA), so I've had to learn from bitter experience not to push them at all. My 3yo was a late talker simply because she wouldn't let us push her into it.

  9. My cousins broke the canopy on my sister's bed when she was a kid, hiding on top of it while playing hide-and-seek. My parents decided after that to wait on nice furniture until we (and our relations) were grown!

  10. I have explained to mine in graphic detail the horrible things that will happen if they ever mess with bookcases again. I've heard too many terrifying stories of kids crushed by bookcases to take it lightly. I don't usually believe in scaring my kids to keep them safe – but I did after that. Thank goodness that particular one was a very SMALL bookcase.

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