Wildflowers for Jade: Every book is a window

Friday, October 7, 2011

Every book is a window

Last night Jaden and I finished reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This wasn’t the first “big book” I’ve read to him but it's the first that we’ve finished. The others were just too far beyond his comprehension, but I thought that The Chronicles of Narnia might be just about right, and they are. He still doesn’t understand even half of what I’m reading, and because of that I’m even more proud of his ability to stick it out and listen anyway. I go back and summarize for him often and we ask each other questions about what we’ve read.

Not to brag (OK maybe a little?) but I’m proud of myself too. It’s nice to see the end results of years of struggle play out well. Jaden is – to put it mildly – not a very attentive child. I first started reading to him when he was maybe 6 months old. You know those little one minute, 3 word books with the little finger puppet in them to hold interest? Yeah I love those. Even then I had to hold Mr. Squirmy down and force him to pay attention, and that went on for a while. This was not something done lightly but a very weighed decision. Yes I’m an attachment parent and part of the “free the children” movement (not really I made that up,) and don’t believe in pushing a child too hard too fast, but maybe even then I sensed this was not some regular phase he’d grow out of but something he had to be taught. I was most successful by reading to him while I was nursing, his favorite thing, and I had my captive audience.

Fast forward years later and I have a child who listens to a story even when he doesn’t understand it. Who begs me to read to him on the nights when I waver and say we stayed up too late and maybe we should skip it. A few weeks ago as I turned off the light he said “Thank you, Mommy.”
“For what?”
“For reading to me,” he said, though I do it every night. And I tucked that moment into my box of treasures.

Reading has been a foundational piece of my life, so I was determined from the start that “this child will be a reader!” How important it was I didn’t even know at the time, before we understood that language in any form was one of his biggest challenges. How much more so essential it is that he will want to read, to listen, to understand. If the love for it is there, he will overcome his obstacles to accomplish it. Because he’s Jaden, and he’s strong-willed and determined to do whatever he sets his mind to do.

So to me, last night was a coup, a shining star in the sky that is opening for Jaden. When we were done I asked “Why do you think the Professor believed their story and didn’t think they were crazy?”
“I don’t know?” he said wondering.
“I think it’s because he’s been to Narnia too.” I looked at Jaden. “Actually I know that’s why, because there’s a book about that too.”
“There’s another book?” he asked, his eyes getting big.
“Yep. There are several books about Narnia. Would you like us to read them all?”
“Yes!” he exclaimed with a smile.
And his world opened up that much more.

Every book is a window
Every word a step
Into unknown territories
And unchartered depths

Every idea, whether
Wrong or right
Opens rooms for thoughts
To shine lights in the night

Education’s a dry thing
But learning abounding
When a child realizes
The world is astounding 

A life may be poor
Even if rich or grand
Without adventures to read
Of some distant land

So you take your gold
And I’ll take my mysteries
Shakespeare and Dickinson
Roman Empire histories

I’ll skip all the drama
and allegory;
The world is too small
Without a good story

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