Sunday, November 18, 2018

On the world beneath the covers

Having finished Dianna Wynne Jones' classic The Power of Three, my 9 year old and I have started on now started on Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men for bedtime reading.

I am going to profoundly miss it when she decides she is too old for shared reading. Reading to, and with, my girls has been hands down my favourite part of parenting. I have so, so many rich memories of particular stories and the way they have all responded, and the stories I have discovered and rediscovered with them.

It all started with picture books - things like nursery rhymes, The Velveteen Rabbit, Pumpkin Soup, Sleepy Pendoodle, all the Mem Fox and Pamela Allen books, Charlie and Lola, Shirley Barber, the Hairy McClarys, and my childhood pile of Golden Books. Early reader fodder from Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, the Rainbow Fairies and many others - revisiting the Faraway Tree and Famous Five was a particular joy. Taking each child to the Misty Mountain and Narnia, and on the water with The Wind in the Willows, was incredible. The big girls and I particularly loved the Wrinkle in Time series.

I have passed on my devotion to The Dark is Rising series three times now. I did Anne of Green Gables with the older two, and the My Side of the Mountain books with the youngest. We got through the first four Silver Brumby books before horsey interest started to wane. We have read Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, and with the older ones, Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. We found new material together too, like the Sky Horses series, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort from Lauren Childs, and the wonderful My Australian Girl books.

There were more - so many more. If I have any regret at all, it is that I didn't keep a reading log (something I also wish more broadly in my own life that I had done, but ... bygones).

They all have their favourites. My eldest favours anything with even the slightest whiff of dystopia. The middle kid likes mysteries and sad stories. The youngest likes fantasy and nature stories. There is one clear overlap winner in terms of adoration, and that is The Dark is Rising (because Susan Cooper is queen, no don't argue, she just is).

I really hope that, when my girls look back on their childhoods, they remember that among all the many imperfections, there was always time and will to open up the covers of a book and step into wonder together.