My mom read somewhere that if you read bedtime stories to your kids every night they will always feel they can come to you for help. That sitting on the edge of your kid’s bed with a book shared between you, builds intimacy. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case it worked. I love remembering the nights mom stayed awake to read to me and my brother.
Hearing her talk about those picture books makes me smile. She’ll tell me about ABC by Dr. Seuss. My brother is two years older than me and he loved this book. To hear her retell it, she read him this story every night for about a year. In her voice you can hear this was not just a year, for her she was trapped for a decade. She was forced to enthusiastically read this for a century, the words branded onto her brain. The night that my brother asked for a different story was the night my mom was set free, liberated by her son’s growing mind. Relieved, she went to my room it was time for my bedtime story.
“What book tonight?” She asked.
In my little hands, I picked up ABC by Dr. Seuss. And so continued another year of torture.
My brother and I are very different people, if you were to make a venn diagram of our personality traits, the middle section would be sparse. Mom identified this early on and in response, she found The Treasure Tree by John & Cindy Trent and Gary & Norma Small. It’s an energetic book about four friends working together to find treasure. We loved identifying with the different characters; all of them were depicted to be distinctive and unique from one another. Mom was consistent in the way she read it, each character had their own voice and certain words had their own emphasis. I was four years old when that book was prominent in my life and I still hear her voice when I think about its story.
Our cousins were spending the night when Mom started reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. We were young and the language was dry. Mom told us to hang in there. When Lucy stumbled through to Narnia, we were captivated. The snow from the story’s world filled our minds. Hurting for Mr. Tumnus’ near betrayal, we devoured the spoken words. We cried together in the end and we needed to know more.
When my cousin’s son turned one, Mom and I gave him these books. We knew they wouldn’t be very interesting for him yet, but the memory of them was too strong not to share. Opening her son’s gift, my cousin’s eyes filled with tears. The late nights, when Mom would read until her throat was dry and she was too tired to see the words clearly, were as precious to my cousin as they were to us.