My summer reading has taken a two-pronged approach. Not only am I reading for myself (some cookbooks, Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody books, Arabella by Georgette Heyer, The President’s Club: Inside the Worlds Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and My Life in France by Julia Child ) but I am reading with Junior. We’ve worked our way through The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and a huge stack of picture books. Favorites out of that pile have been Mr. Pusskins, who can give Rotten Ralph a run for his money in the horrible department, the Pete the Cat books with wonderful illustrations by James Dean and favorite since toddler-hood Lyle the Crocodile. Most importantly though, Junior has been reading to me, taking full advantage of any reader we can lay our hands on, as well as every bus, street sign and inappropriate billboard we pass.
Reading has been a hard-won skill for her and the only way I know to keep that skill sharp and improve on it is constant practice, something that is harder to achieve during the summer. She has latched on to one reader in particular that was a hand-me-down from her cousin. In all honesty, I am not enjoying repeated readings of the adventures of Stan, Dan and Lee at the pool. Yes, there are plenty of wonderful readers out there but she prefers Stan and his ilk over Mr. & Mrs. Green, Mr. Putter and Tabby and Little Bear. While I still make some selections for her, she is now insisting on her own choices when she is doing the reading. I know she reads better when it’s something she wants to read, and that repetition in reading builds both comfort and confidence. So, I listen while she reads the same books (there are others also not to my literary tastes) over and over. This is what is called, in the world of parenting, a sacrifice. Yes, the book is meh but the payoffs? The sound of my child’s voice as she works her way through a book with only 64 words and the obvious thrill she gets from conquering something that looked impossible last winter. I imagine it will be pretty easy to forget the not so exciting books she loves this summer, but I will cherish the moments she’s cuddled next to me, frowning over how to sound out the word “aw,” while the miracle of learning to read becomes ordinary.