I don’t remember how old I was when people stopped reading to me at my bedtime.
These days I get read to most nights. At some point, the girls’ bedtime went from us reading to them to them reading to us. I find the whole thing fascinating. Both girls have always enjoyed books. We went through all the same phases you went through:
Phase 1: Board books with 6 pages and giant colorful shapes and things.
Phase 2: Board books with 12 pages, 2 words on a page, and most of the corners of said pages worn down by drool.
Phase 3: Board books with 27 pages of rhyming “poetry” that we can read each night, sometimes twice, for 6 months straight. This time, the corners have bite marks on them and many of the pages are “peeling” off of their boards from the drool.
Phase 4: Paper books that are square shaped with stories about our favorite characters. Many of these pages have rips near the binding because, you know, everyone wants to help turn the pages and turning from the inside half of the page never results in a rip.
Phase 5: Gigantic hard-cover books with pages that fold out and pieces that move and inevitably get ripped out that you later read anyway and just pretend are still there even though Elmo’s body is missing his oscillating head.
Phase 6: Dr. Seuss books which tonight, will hopefully not be “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” because, and I’m not kidding, its like 350 pages long.
Phase 7: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” for the 8th night in a row where you only read the left pages and don’t get caught.
Phase 8: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” for the 8th night in a row where you try and only read the left pages but DO get caught.
This is the turning point…
Wait, did you just recognize the words were missing?
And so it goes.
More complicated books with more words leads to pointing my finger at each word as I go so we can all follow along.
Phase 9: We read Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” and harken back to our youth and how wonderful (but sort of sad) a story it is.
In fact, you love “The Giving Tree” so much, you go for more…and you get something like this:
Here we have a story with a beautiful illustration of a kid with lit candles buried in his head and hair that seems to be melting down his face laughing to himself about how much fun it will be when nobody shows up to his birthday party.
Sweet dreams kids.
That’s when you realize that maybe we should take a Shel-break but hey, reading is fun!
Phase 10: Break out some old board books and practice reading again! You read this page and I’ll read the next page.
Phase 11: You read 2 pages to me and I’ll read 2 pages to you.
Phase 12: You suddenly realize that you can no longer spell words to your spouse when your kid asks “Daddy, where are going to take that shit?”
At this point, reading is underway. You realize that there’s a very real possibility that one of these days, probably sooner rather than later, your kids will discover and really understand that you write a blog and have been documenting their childhood and want to read it and then roll their eyes at you.
Phase 13: We sit in bed and I listen as the entire book is read to me. I’m told that we’ll “read and show.” This means that she reads the page and then turns the book around to show me the pictures like in school. This is cute but takes about 10x to get through the book and honestly, the plots in these books are not particularly compelling for me.
Phase 14: And here we are. Now I sit and they read the entire book and just want us to be present. They don’t need to show the pictures. They just want the company. Every now and then I get to read to them and its a pleasure. Each night I’ll ask, “are you reading to me or am I reading to you?”
Tonight, Chloe wanted to read to me. She picked out her book and brought it over to bed. Sometimes its a chapter book and sometimes it is one that has pictures. Tonight it was the latter…
…And I found myself staring at her, in a sort of awe, truly enjoying watching her enjoy reading. She turns each page and then takes a few moments to look at the pictures. She takes her time, really soaking in what’s happening before she starts to read and then gets into it. In the off chance that she runs into a word she can’t pronounce, she just points at it and waits, knowing/hoping that I’m still watching and can help. These help requests are starting to be few and far between.
I love reading and while I have always been confident that my kids would enjoy it as well, its so much fun to see it playing out. I love going in their bedrooms at night to check on them and finding a book on their bed with a bookmark in it that they were reading after bedtime but before they were ready to fall asleep.
I love watching them figure it all out while realizing that there are endless stories to enjoy.
I love this moment: