Last night I cuddled up with my 7-year-old and read a few chapters from the Deltora Shadowlands series by Emily Rodda. It’s our habit to read three chapters a night. With Rodda’s books, storytime usually ends with a cliffhanger and a whining plea for more (which I never give in to unless I’m dying to know what happens next). Last night my son pleaded, “But I can’t survive without hearing the next chapter!” Wow. That’s some compliment to Emily Rodda.
My 14-year-old son adored her books in his younger days, too. While I’m reading them to his brother, I sometimes catch him hovering nearby. In part, he’s nostalgiac, but in part he’s still genuinely interested in the tales. He no longer reads much fantasy (it’s not my preferred genre either), but it’s hard to close the cover on a likeable hero facing a hideous beast with near-impossible odds of surviving, especially when a kingdom’s fate rests on the outcome.
I love rediscovering favourite or forgotten children’s books that I once read with my oldest son. I’m lucky to have the pleasure of reading them all over again, seven years later. Sure, I could read them anytime, but reading out loud to your child is a whole different experience than reading on your own. Many books I’d never consider reading for my own pleasure are great with kids who love them.
The first time I read Captain Underpants (to my younger son), we read the whole novel in one evening, giggling in bed. When I closed the cover, he smiled and said, “That was awesome,” with a faraway look in his eyes, like he’d just experienced something amazing. And he had–he’d never thought a book could be like that.
My oldest son missed that series. But he did catch Harry Potter, Cirque du Freak, and a zillion other books I might never have read if it weren’t for storytime with him. Even now, we’ll sometimes read the same book (Feed, Probably Still Nick Swanson, America), although we don’t read it out loud together.
Recently my younger son has lost interest in picture books. He’s happy to have one in the afternoon, but at bedtime he wants a novel. And not an early reader, which he likes to read on his own. That means I don’t get to read Frog and Toad out loud to anyone anymore. But I get to hear them read aloud to me, and that’s a welcome sound.
Everything changes, so they say. No use clinging to the past, or hurrying the future. I miss reading picture books at storytime. And I miss reading to my oldest son. But I can’t complain. Because tonight I get to read three more chapters of Deltora to a captive audience. (Or maybe four, if he can’t survive without knowing how it ends.)