Monday, 19 November 2007

Reading with Colin

I know I've mentioned in my writings before Colin's love of reading, but I just had to highlight it again today.

Colin now has a good 10 or 15 books that he loves, and he genuinely likes to browse through his collection when choosing the 3 he gets to read before going to sleep. He recognizes each cover, and can call the book by name (ie: "Goodnight Moon" is known as "Moon"). Often he is actually looking for a specific book, mumbling the title to himself as he sifts through the piles until he finds it.

Today, however, he wanted to read a book to me. He chose Robert Munsch's "Love You Forever" (a classic for every parent). I figured I'd get a babbling nonsensical version, but to my surprise, he actually knew the key words that went with each page. For those of you familiar with the book, here's Colin's rendition: (I'll number each page)

1. New baby...back and forth, back and forth, back and
2. Grew and grew and grew....Grew two years...ran!
3. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
4. Grew and grew and grew...dinner...grandma bad words...zoo.
5. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
6. Grew and grew and grew...strange friends...strange clothes...strange music...ZOO!
7. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
8. Grew and grew and
9. Car.
10. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
11. Older, older, older.
12. Back and forth, back and forth.
13. Stairs.
14. New baby, back and forth, back and you be.

Granted, the story is repetitive, but I was amazed at all the other words Colin managed to throw in! I have started to appreciate children's literature on a whole new level. I wonder how many people think that it must be easy to write for kids. As a parent who reads daily to her children, however, I'm able to see what stories Colin likes, which he doesn't, which ones he picks up on, and those that he finds are not worth his time. Inevitably, it's rarely the ones we'd pick out for him. The best example of this is John Lithgow's books "Marsupial Sue" and "I'm a Manatee". These stories are probably at the top of Colin's list, and yet they are not your traditional children's narratives. Here's an example of a line from "I'm a Manatee":

"With my wit, sophistication and urbanity,
I dignify my watery domain.
No one near will ever hear me use profanity,
Because a manatee has his image to maintain."

In no other children's book have I seen a writer use this level of language, and yet Colin is enthralled by the poetry of it. He seems to have no problem with the fact that more than half the words he doesn't understand. There's just something lyrical about it that touches him.

Personally, I'm just excited that he loves to read so much and hope that it's something that only grows as the years go by.

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