Two years and one month sounds older than 25 months, doesn’t it? Anyway, I choose not to count in months now that we’ve got more than one year under our belts. I wish I’d kept up these “what we’ve read so far” posts with even more regularity, but it’s been a little while since the last one (“What we’ve read so far, 22.5 months”). While we’re at it, I also wish I’d cribbed the title of Nick Hornby’s column in The Believer, “Stuff I’ve Been Reading.” What was I thinking? Who knows – I certainly wasn’t sleeping much when I started these.
We’re still getting big stacks of books from the library regularly, but for this post I thought I’d take a picture of the bookshelves in her room. Even these aren’t the whole picture, because we also have books for her in the living room and dining room and car and scattered pretty much everywhere, but they’re never going to be all in one place. My personal feng shui could be boiled down to “books in every room.”
On the top shelf, we have the books that PJ Library has sent, some books that are too tall for any of the shelves, and all of our Mo Willems (Pigeon!), Spot, and Winnie-the-Pooh books.
On the middle shelf are all the big picture books: fairy tales, poetry, Shel Silverstein, and then a mix of books from our own childhoods, books we’ve bought more recently, and books she received as gifts from friends and family. Some people shy away from giving librarians (and their kids) books, but I’ve rarely received a duplicate, and I’ve discovered some great books that were new to me: The Circus Ship; Julia’s House for Lost Creatures; Where, Bear?; Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn; Little Elliot, Big City; Nanette’s Baguette, and more. Thank you to our thoughtful, generous friends!
Some of our newer (i.e. not from our own childhoods) favorites are here: 13 Words; Bark, George!; Z is for Moose; Sometimes I Forget You’re a Robot; A Greyhound, A Groundhog; Goodnight, Everyone; Sleep Tight, Farm; and The Adventures of Beekle. And our childhood favorites as well: Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, and Sendak-illustrated What Do You Do, Dear? and What Do You Say, Dear?; Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Dear Zoo; One Woolly Wombat; and Once I Ate A Pie.
On the lowest shelf are the board books, which she still enjoys. There are some good ones to read before bedtime, like Time for Bed, Goodnight Moon, Bedtime for Chickies, and Sweet Dreams, Little Bear. There are some clusters of favorite authors like Chris Haughton and the Chu books by Neil Gaiman; there is our beloved Madeline; there are still a few touch-and-feel and lift-the-flap books; and there is some Dr. Seuss, including One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, which she calls “the counting book” (because of the page where the creature has eleven fingers) or “White Fish Green Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” (if she’s looking at the cover). There’s another box of board books nearby (lots of Sandra Boynton and others).
Some of our favorite books to read at the table are If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, If You Give A Pig A Pancake, and all of the How Do Dinosaurs…? books by Jane Yolen (those are from the library, except How Do Dinosaurs Celebrate Hanukkah?, which is from PJ Library). In the living room we have Lucy Cousins’ Yummy, a gift from a good friend whose daughter loves it too; Mix It Up by Herve Tullet; What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry; and Master-Pieces Flip & Flop, an art book where each portrait is divided into three pieces, so you can have Van Gogh’s hat over Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows and Arcimboldo’s fruit beard (for example).
I do still often switch up the gender from male to female if it’s not attached to a specific character; it’s too easy for the default to be “he/his/him,” and it’s something I am conscious of when we talk about her stuffed animals as well. It felt unnatural and forced at first, but that just proves how ingrained it is.
I’m so glad she loves reading, and reading together; it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. Her memory for books is very good, so sometimes we read fill-in-the-blank style where she says some of the words. Other times, we spend longer looking at the pictures. Even though her shelves are full, she can almost always find the book she wants to read, which means she remembers what the spines look like, too.
She also loves libraries; the one where I work is practically her second home, and when we traveled recently, we visited a different public library four days out of five, and she was always happy to go in and explore. Even though each one is different, they are all familiar, comfortable places.
In addition to reading, she sings a lot (we get the “Twinkle Twinkle/ABCs/Baa Baa Black Sheep” medley frequently), and she’s started to love puzzles. We have a couple beginner puzzles that have four puzzles of 3-5 pieces each in one box, but she has mastered those and lately has been doing a 26-piece wooden jigsaw of animals. Ravensburger, here we come! (And by “we,” I mean her and her dad, because I don’t have the patience for anything over 100 pieces.)