Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As Good A Day As Any

I intended to write this post yesterday as it was the 95th birthday of the beloved Beverly Cleary*. Her Ramona books were among the first I checked out (over and over and over again) from my grade school library, read on my own, and held a deep and abiding love for. They were part of my first private reading - where the voices and characters came to life in my own mind, rather than being read aloud by my parents or even a teacher. (Although several teachers did read us Cleary books and that was awesome too.) One's private reading life is something I have thought a lot about lately as more and more often I come upon scenes like this:

I was so, so thrilled when Harper began to learn to read. It was an exhilarating journey to share with her and I loved being witness to the transformation that took place as she moved from sounding out first words to fluently reading sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, and now many entire books all by herself. She can't read everything but I'm impressed by what she is capable of, and so incredibly proud of her. And all of a sudden, I feel a little panicked, too. Our shared reading is slowly but surely becoming HER reading.  She doesn't need me to be much of a part of it anymore.

I feel fortunate to know that it is still valuable to keep reading aloud to children who have learned to read themselves and in the fact that Harper still allows us to read to her. She often pleads with us to, "Please read with LOTS of expression!" Our days of shared reading are not over yet, but I see where this road is leading and suddenly I feel like she blew threw a critical phase of the whole reading together thing and is moving forward while I'm back here yelling, "Wait! We haven't read Owl at Home! Or all of the Mr. Putter and Tabby books! Or every Henry and Mudge!" Cynthia Rylant and Arnold Lobel alone could have kept us in delightful reading material for years... I kept thinking there was so much time. Sigh.

I'm also starting to come to terms with the fact that I might not read everything she reads. I want to know and talk about what she is reading but our tastes do not always align well. As much as I want to share reading with her I feel no need whatsoever to delve into any more Barbie chapter books like the one she recently brought home from her school library. When I saw that thing I was exceedingly grateful that she can read on her own!

She's all loose teeth, gaping smile, wrapped up in a book by herself.

My beautiful baby.

*If you don't know Beverly Cleary's mouse books and have a child in 1st -3rd grade or so (boy or girl) you really should know them. They are wonderful. HUGE hits when read aloud to each one of my first grade classes. They are The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse.


hockeygrrrrl said...

This was a beautiful post. Brought a few tears to my eyes as I was just thinking a similar thing tonight while reading with my 6 year old. She's sounding out words and still just learning the kindergarten sight words and sounds, but she wants to read so badly! She brought home a great book today and she read the whole thing to me - with some help sounding out the tricky words she doesn't know yet. But my goodness. She is so smart, and I am so proud.

BTW - another thing you and I have in common is that I am a librarian too. :) I think I read that somewhere about you, right? I'm in a downtown public library - but the love for learning and reading and books and bringing that to others is just the same. :)

Okay now I'm rambling, but I just had to say, I have VERY fond memories of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I read that book over and over and over and over! Such good books.

Val said...

Shoot - sorry - forgot to change the way I signed my post. Hockeygrrrrl is "Val" :) which I know is little help. Maybe I should go to bed now, I appear to be babbling. :)

Kate said...

Mouse and the Motorcycle is my go-to book for parents looking for first chapter book read-alouds for preschool to 1st grade. Then they are fun for 2nd and 3rd graders to read alone. YAY!

PS-- if you like Ramona, Clementine by Pennypacker is a home run.

Heather said...

Beautiful post! And I know exactly what you mean. Wesley is starting to read and while it makes me really happy, it's kind of bittersweet (as you captured so well.) He loves the "Elephant and Piggie" books by Mo Willems and reads them with such expression!

Jill said...

love M&TM! I would sit and read it anytime, and, well, I'm old!

Sara said...

Harper is so beautiful! And it is wonderful that she loves reading! My friend posted the following link that is an interview with Beverly Cleary. She still is spunky! :)
Hope the link works for you!

Emily said...

Oh, Kelsey, so sweet! I'll have to pick your brain the next time I see you about the whole reading thing. As you know, I'm not a huge reader myself (eek! I hope we can still be friends :), but I certainly want to facilitate a love of reading for my kids to the extent that they want to. So recently I've tried a bit of reading aloud some chapter books (like Ramona and Charlotte's Web) but Katy didn't really seem interested when there aren't pictures and there is so much text. Maybe it's just too soon? She's is ALL about learning to read on her own, though.

CARRIE said...

N seems to only want to read chapter books, although before bed we primarily read picture books since I am reading to both her and G at the same time.

And it makes me so, so, so sad that she is moving beyond picture books. She doesn't want to read the Marc Brown Arthur chapter books---she wants to read more "girl-focused books." And that is fine, but I have special memories of reading all the Arthur books with her when she was a preschooler, and I guess I want to keep that going by reading the Arthur chapter books.

I laughingly remember buying baby-print alphabet fabric when I was pregnant with N thinking, "This fabric will last until she is 5." HA! Who knew kids have their own desires/designs by the time they are 3???? And their own reading lists by the time they are 6????