Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Best Part of my Day

** This is my first official guest blog post.  I am writing for my friend, Rita Wirtz's blog, Reading Champs and I am both honored and a bit intimidated.  Rita and I both share a passion for reading but Rita shares her passion on her blog, with her books and in teacher education conferences...I just read...and occasionally write. :)  
But I thought I could share the best part of my day...reading with my kids right before bed. 
Thank you Rita for this opportunity! **

Snuggled in on a Saturday morning with Caroline. :)

"You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be --

I had a Mother who read to me."

--Strickland Gillilan

I grew up with a mom who read to me.

She would read magazines out loud to us on long car rides...and we would all groan...and complain and pretend we didn't want to listen...
but the view outside was boring and it was a welcome change, so we listened and learned something.

I remember my mom craning her neck and turning herself sideways so that we could see the pictures in the magazines and understand the subtleties in her voice.

She was a preschool teacher so she knew how to read out loud...
how to be suspenseful, tricky, magical and funny.

Her birthday is this week-end and I'll try to think of a present that is good enough.
A present that can come close to the gift she gave love of books.

You and I both know I don't stand a chance.

All I can do is send her these words and have her know, 
really know, 
how much I valued her joy in literature, 
her big hearted tears that would come with every Erma Bombeck essay, 
her love of Snoopy's wisdom 
and Judith Viorst's tender witness to parenthood.

Her book-love so infected me that when it came time to choose places to live...I angled and finagled my world so that I could be within walking distance to our city dream as a child.

It came true in adulthood.

I can walk to the library, bike to a bookstore, wander to a city bench to read and read.
It's one of my greatest joys and I have my mom to thank.


Today I have four kids of my own...
and reading is a big part of our world too.

There are plenty of things I would re-do but sneaking to bed late because we're caught up in a book isn't one.

Without fail, the best part of my day is reading with my children right before bed.

It can be hard juggling bedtimes and kids' needs but it is worth every effort for those moments of connection and calm joy.

If your child is a strong independent reader...who cares?!
Don't lost those moments to read the even deeper, more suspenseful, more emotional, more messy and poignant, beautiful books of young adult literature together.

I know my kids don't probably remember any of these moments but I am going to share them here anyway...
if only as a time capsule to seal away and forever hold close.


Thank you to Jack...for letting me hear you giggle over Captain Underpants in second grade.
As a teacher, I looked down on that series of books...
watching you read that book on your own and laugh out loud, my heart was turned.  
I became the best evangelist for inappropriate potty humor around.
Thank you for sharing with me Harry Potter.
I know you could have read that on your own...
but it was like the very best kept secret to share with you.

I will never forget riding bikes to get Harry Potter 3 on that summer day -- the day it was finally released -- and eagerly stopping even before we got home (!) to begin reading because we just couldn't wait one more minute.

Thank you to Mary reluctant reader...who holds as a prize the title 
"no interest in reading anything ever" with pride...
for my tender, miraculous moment of tears over Charlotte's death in Charlotte's Web.
Smiles over Judy Moody and Molly Moon also snuck up on us. 
Later, we guiltily devoured the Twilight series (ssshhhh, never reveal to anyone our impassioned love of vampires and werewolves) and I cherish that silly series for it connected me to you.

Thank you to Patrick for the beauty in watching you learn to read.
Thank you for always being willing to sit on a lap or later lay in a bed and read.
My favorite book we have shared so far was Winn-Dixie.
Listening to that little lonely girl make friends with so many different types of people in her wonderful guileless way was just what my heart needed.
Your eagerness to find out what happened next, 
your willingness to keep reading even when your eyes ached to close
were tiny nighttime joys.

And thank you to Caroline...
who loved Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Fancy Nancy...
but most of all, Junie B. Jones,
sassy kindergartener extraordinaire.
Making our way through that entire series 
through a whole summer will be one of my fondest memories.

Thank you for letting my heart sink into Little House in the Big Woods.
Thank you for helping me to circle my way back to the jewels of childhood:
laps, stories and time.

If you have a reluctant reader...never fear.
They really just haven't found the right story.

Try non-fiction.
Or poetry.
Or inappropriate potty humor. :)

Or just try.

Keep trying over and over.
Bring out the snacks.
The drinks.
The cozy jammies.

For when your child stumbles onto what touches his heart, 
you have given him a key.

A secret passage to handle adversity.
A staircase to find inspiration.
A path to escape the rigors of a weary world.
A way directly to the heart.

You have unfolded a map that will traverse an entire lifetime.

I should know.
My mom read to me.


And if you love to read, please join the Twitter chat called #Read4Fun 
every Sunday at 4pm Pacific Time.
You will be amazed at how many people share your joy.
You'll get book ideas.
Life ideas.
Fun ideas
...and meet the sweetest people.
Look for me: @inclusionchick and Rita @RitaWirtz

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