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.