Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Book Bond

My eight year old son, Daniel has started reading chapter books in the last few months. Hardly earth shaking to most, but to a voracious reader like me, noteworthy. Not that it matters, but I'm trying to figure out how his love of reading developed. I suspect it may be a combination of two things: he inherited the gene from me and I've been reading books to him since the day he was born.
That last sentence wasn't intended to be smug. Daniel and I had an unconventional bonding after his birth. Born 16 weeks early and weighing only 1 lb 10 oz, he spent the first two months of his life in an incubator. He was 32 days old when we got to hold him for the first time. But everyday, I was there, talking to him, reminding him that he wasn't alone, that Mommy and Daddy were with him every step of the way. In those first early days, someone suggested that I read to him. And read to him I did. I Love You As Much by Laura Melmed and Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond were favorites.Since the age of two, Daniel has always taken a book or a magazine to bed with him. We've gone through our fair share of flashlights and itty bitty book lights.
His aunt in England sent him two Roald Dahl books, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and George's Marvellous Medicine, which we started by reading a chapter at night. We've graduated to Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransome, JK Rowling and now, Rick Riordan. At Christmas, he read Diary of a Wimpy Kid by himself over a two day period.
Yesterday we went into town to our local bookstore and I enjoyed his excitement as he ordered the second books in the Harry Potter and Diary of A Wimpy Kid series. He has his own library card and has taken books out religiously every two weeks for the past few years.
Books are the one thing that bonds us together. Every night, I look forward to reading the next chapter of whatever book we're into at the moment and I know he does too. While we read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we regularly recited lines from it as well as recalled favorite passages.
In the last year, his interests have grown to include soccer. He caught World Cup Fever and never recovered. It's an interest that I encourage but don't share. First, I'm not athletically inclined. Second, I was reared on the American sports of football and ice hockey.
Two people can be as different as day and night, but a love of books can be the bond that brings them together.
But more importantly, I know the value of books and this is what I want to pass onto him. Reading will help him in school, it will help him with spelling and it will introduce to him new worlds that his father and I will never be able to show him. Reading is portable. With a good book, you'll never mind waiting, you'll never be bored and you won't care about rainy days while your on vacation. And when times are tough, as they invariably are in life, a book will be your shelter, your escape route and possibly, even a lifeline.