Big Sister is an avid reader. That is putting it mildly but I realize I get little to adjective heavy and I am all about distilling right now. (If you were my editor you’d ask me to cut the last sentence and the irony isn’t lost on me).
Because she devours books I rely primarily on borrowing material from the library to meet her needs, choosing only to buy books she truly loves. But on occasion, she will be completely caught up with a series and will be waiting full of hope and longing for the latest book to be released. As was the case for the book alluded to in the title of this post.
It is not even available for purchase until tomorrow, but through the magical wizardly ways of Amazon Prime, I pre-ordered it and she freed it, in all of its hard backed, non-spine-cracked glory from its protective cardboard shipping sheath. Then she pounced.
In between homework assignments and forkfuls of dinner all the way through the bedtime routine I watched as her eyes scanned line after line with laser-like precision and speed. For the record, she delayed reading only for fifteen minutes as it is high bartering time in households of siblings who participated in Halloween last night – there were deals to be made and negotiation terms to be ironed out.
An hour after bedtime I heard her door open and she proudly announced she had finished the book. After hugs and kisses and a return to her room, moments later I heard the door open again. This time, the beaming, gap toothed smile was replaced by a quivering lip, her eyes sparkling with tears instead of pride. Sobbing, she lamented, the book wasn’t that good and was in fact THE WORST IN THE SERIES. I could only think “Dear God, we’ve raised a reader”!
As much as I want to avoid any unhappiness in our children I want them to really truly love learning. It doesn’t have to come primarily from reading – though I, personally, tend to learn best in that medium. I want them to know what it feels like to truly participate in something that can transform their world and in our house that proves possible again and again with reading.
Together my husband and I sat with her, both delighted that she had participated so fully and sad along with her dismay. We explained how this was all part of the process and gave examples of books that paled in comparison to other offerings writers had produced (on the spot I came up with the work of Danielle Steel – volumes which I can say without a hint of embarrassment I have read almost entirely) and how you must keep reading still to find other hidden gems even after you picked up a few hard rocks.
She was most concerned with the time and effort we had spent in getting the book for her and how she didn’t want her reaction to the book to somehow relay how she felt about what we had done for her. This of course brought on the discussion of how easily one click ordering on an I-pad was in comparison to the bygone days of DRIVING TO THE ONLY WALDEN BOOKS…IN THE MALL to order a hot-off-the-press-tome like some of us old fogey types have had to live through.
It came full circle for me to a moment when I was writing an essay in ninth grade about a sequel I had read. I have since forgotten what I wrote but I am confident it was uncharacteristically harsh of me and I felt smug in my essay. My English teacher who I still admire to this day had a simple response – she drew a thin red line through my rant and wrote over it in pristine penmanship “Write a better sequel “. She had not spent the time to read my defense, I thought and I was hurt and embarrassed. A split second later I was born again, because I knew that she had seen that I had enough of a foundation to not only recognize what I liked and loved and what mattered to me but what simply didn’t and with a gentle push she wanted me to know that I could do great things.
Once Big Sister had calmed down, I tucked her back in bed and told her again how happy we were that she had encountered this first – and that what she did after this was the most important part of the whole ordeal. In life, as in reading, you will build something up sometimes only to see it fall, but the real gift is in the learning – the rebuilding of it all anyway.