Saturday, February 27, 2010
I grew up surrounded my language. My grandfather (I only had one), had been an English teacher. I remembered his collection of Shakespeare, the one that now lives in my bookcase displayed despite its tattered appearance, in the bookcase outside my grandparents bedroom. He used big words. He loved language. I find it more than ironic that his oldest son, my father, struggled with words. Despite that, the love persisted in him as well. My father passed on that love to me. Somewhere, at some point there were audio tapes (you remember the kind, right?) of me reading to my baby brother. I wasn't even four yet.
I have always read to M. It was hard at first, the collection of kid books we got at first, the classics, never appealed to me. We made trips to local kid's bookstores when M was a baby, trying to find things we could read that wouldn't drive us insane in the process. We found Olivia, the World Snacks books, and The Bear Snores On (and every other one of those books). It made it easy, and she began to love books. Even if sometimes it was as a snack. The Olivia board book has one rounded corner and one that is still square.
I've been cautious. I have tried my best not to push her. She would go weeks without asking for stories, and I never pushed. We work on the alphabet, but I do my best to not be that parent. The one that uses their child for competition with other parents.
However, I quietly, secretly, have hoped that she would take to words the same way that I did. That I could share with her the love of words that I have. I have done everything I could to pass it on. I have used the big words, ignoring that some may not think she can handle them at only two. I have taken the time to explain, repeatedly, what they mean.
Something has happened in the last few weeks. Maybe it is that she is almost three. Maybe it is just the recent development/growth spurt. She is starting to get it. As I was exiting the parking ramp last week, she started reading off the OPEN sign on our lane. She has asked A and I to spell our names for her. She is picking out the letters in her name where ever she finds them. She is starting to get it.
I see those books on that shelf, and I am grateful that I was given the gift of words. The best gifts are the ones that you can pass on.