To say my daughter loves to read is like saying a flower loves sunshine. She will sit with you for an hour as you read and reread her favorite stories, let her choose every book. This is saying something for a girl who's almost always in motion, is a blur in most photos. The first time she ever crawled was to reach a basket of books across the floor.
We read after school between having pretend picnics. She uses our fridge as an easel, while I cook dinner and dance with her to the ABCs. We read again after bath time and then again before bedtime. We read during diaper changes, recite stories in the car. She loves books so much that she tries to avoid sleep ("Tissue?" "Diaper!" "Baff?"), reaches out for them with insistent hands ("[Curious] George!" "Gossie!"). They're her imaginary friends, her treasured worlds.
It's hard to say no when you see her eyes light up, watch her become transfixed with the stories, the artistry on the pages. When you hear new words spill out of her daily, see her comprehend and make connections. When she literally dances at the suggestion of reading.
I am amazed by the effect it's had on her. She will be 2 in April and is speaking in sentences and phrases, using pronouns and inflections. She helps read books aloud with me, knows every rhyming word in The Cat In The Hat. I will never tire of hearing her songlike cadence, her excitement as she says every word. I would love to build her a library, to write her a lifetime of favorite stories.
For now she has a tiny bookcase and piles of books next to her rocking chair. Books in the kitchen and books in our cars, books in the guest room and in our bedroom. I'm sure there are books in her dreams.
And I'll read her 10 books, or 15 or 20 before bedtime. Not because I'm not tired (I'm exhausted) or I have nothing else to do (Ha!) or I have no desire to pass out on the couch (I will), but because I love her. Because reading time is bonding time. Because, to her, books are magical. And, a bit selfishly, I love to be a part of that magic.
Also, I know this won't last forever, this read-with-mama time -- there will be a day when she won't sit in my lap, pile stacks of books next to me on the couch, hold my hand in her rocking chair as we read, as I smell her hair and hold her tight.
So for now, you better believe I'll read and read and then read some more.
And while she's sleeping, while I'm cleaning up from the day and preparing for the night, I'll recite the stories in my mind, be thankful for these moments. She may not remember them, but she'll carry a part of them with her --a bond and affinity shared, delight found in what's on bound pages.
What a great gift to give.
"Time spent reading, like time spent loving, increases our lifetime." - Daniel Pennac
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