When I was little, I would spend Friday nights at my great grandmother’s house. I looked forward to this special time – being the youngest of three children meant I coveted any moment spent solo with an adult family member. As soon as my mom would drop me off, I’d run to Great Grammy’s pantry, knowing there would be a treat waiting for me. It varied week by week – sometimes, a candy bar, other times, those orange circus peanuts. Either way, I delighted in the fact that it was just for me and didn’t need to be shared with anyone.
While sugary goodness is one way to a child’s heart, this wasn’t even my favorite thing about visiting her house. When nighttime came, she’d fill the bathtub with dish soap, and I’d play in the bubbles until my fingers pruned. Once I was dry and pajama-clad, I’d slide into her twin bed next to her.“Read me a story,” I’d demand, even though I knew I didn’t have to ask.
I had my choice of classics stacked up on her nightstand, but I’d often go with “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” by Beatrix Potter. As she turned each page with wrinkled fingers, I’d keep my eyes glued to the softly colored illustrations and black-and-white text, never fully comprehending that Peter should have stayed far away from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Instead, I wondered if Peter’s punishment – being sent to bed with a cup of chamomile tea – really seemed so bad. Ending your day of a little harmless mischief with a soothing hot beverage actually sounded kind of nice.
But, while the lesson may have been lost on me, it didn’t matter – what mattered was how safe and content I felt as Great Grammy’s voice lulled me to sleep.
When I became a first-grader a year or so later, I brought in my tattered copy of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” to read out loud to my class. I proudly sat in front of the room, reciting the words Great Grammy read to me countless times. I didn’t struggle or stutter through a single sentence because, by that point, I already knew the tale by heart.
Now that I have my own child to cuddle and share stories with, I’ve given some thought as to the type of books she may enjoy. Just a baby, she responds most positively in the form of adorable little coos to sing-songy rhymes, as any moral or plot are beyond her. But, as time goes on, she’ll be able to pull out a well-loved copy of her own favorite. And while I’ll be immensely proud when she figures out how to recite it all on her own, I’ll be sure to savor the days when she still wants to climb onto my lap and make the same request I once did: “Read me a story.”
What's your favorite book from your childhood? What books are you reading to your kids? Leave your favorites in the comments so that we might find a new family favorite to add to our nightstands.
xo ~ Cassie
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