Until recently, I had never gotten emotional about introducing a new book to my children. Just last week, I checked out Winnie-the-Pooh at the library, and one afternoon I called over my baby girl and asked if she would like to read. We curled up together on the couch. My chin rested on the top of her hair. She pointed at Christopher Robin and giggled when Pooh got stuck in Rabbit’s hole. We chanted Tiddly Pom at all the right places.
I realized this was the last time I would be reading Winnie-the-Pooh to one of my children for the first time. I might have teared up a bit.
I guess as a book lover, I’ve always thought about reading books to my kids as essential as changing their diapers or feeding them lunch. I never thought I would get sentimental about something so vital and routine. I hadn’t thought much about the books they would soon outgrow.
I didn’t know I would need to say goodbye.
My oldest loved reading The Big Red Barn over and over. Our copy still has his teething marks on it. It’s been taped back together with lots of love from three babies. Occasionally, my youngest still pulls it out and crawls into my lap to hear about “the little black bats that flew away out of the barn at the end of the day.” Once in a while, she’ll take it to her brother. I love how this same boy who once counted the bantam hen’s big clutch of eggs – he reads those same words to his baby sister.
Soon, (too soon) I will be clearing the bookshelves in my daughter’s room, top-shelving The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Green Eggs and Ham to make room for Laura and Mary, Anne of Green Gables, and Ramona. I never realized how much I would miss these beginner books, the books that helped shape their imagination, their love of reading. These books taught them to count, added rhythm to the new world of words, guaranteed a few minutes in Mom’s lap, and launched them gently on their ship of dreams every night.
How can I say thank you to stories?
Goodbye, Max. I hope your supper is still hot.
Goodbye, Sam. I do so like Green Eggs and Ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-Am.
Goodbye Noises Everywhere.