Three nights ago, at bedtime, N requested to take "What Makes a Rainbow?" to bed to read. They take books to bed with them every night, but this was the first time he had ever requested a book by name (other than "the truck book" or "the sandwich book"). His request was so specific and tugged my heart so strongly that I searched high and low for that book, yet was still unable to find it. He was consoled with other books, but I still felt so disappointed at not being able to fulfill his request.
It took me a few days to realize why this affected me so much. Books are very important to me. I have been an avid reader my entire life - in my childhood, not a day went by that I didn't read or devour book after book - and many of my best memories are savored story lines and characters from childhood favorites, images and phrases that stick with me to this very day. Books played such an important role in my childhood that even today my memories of growing up are mixed with scenes from books I read at the time, intermingling to create a seamless past where I rode with Laura across the prairie or celebrated with Anne as one disappointment turned into a blessing. The very houses in which we or our friends and family lived served as the settings in my mind's eye for the stories I read, so that when I see their homes or their yards or the woods behind, I see also the characters that I placed there as I read their tales.
I know my little guys like to read - and I love to share that with them each day. They lay in bed at night, the light of their little lamp illuminating their room as they flip through the pile of books they have selected for bedtime. Last night N read Dr. Seuss' "A Fish Out of Water" out loud to J, across the room in his own bed - and I couldn't believe how much N had memorized from the exact wording of the book (either that or he really can read - I guess it's possible!). He read the book to J just as we read it to them: "A boy has fed a fish too much? Oh no! I will come at once!", his little soft voice carefully pronouncing the words as J listened intently.
I hope that reading is as magical for my boys as it was and remains for me. "What Makes a Rainbow?" or "A Fish Out of Water" may be N's first step on that journey. I want to be sure to be there with him and J, to talk about what they read and experience that magic all over again for myself.