This post is a part of my “Board Book Beauty – Savoring the small as I read to my toddler” series. To see all of the posts in the series, go here.
Of the many much-loved gifts Katie received for her second birthday, the one that just might see the most use is Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose. It has tough competition: the play kitchen and utensils, the kid-sized cleaning implements, various books and stuffed animals, and the cardboard fort that has become a permanent fixture in my living room were all birthday gifts, and all get their fair share of a little girl’s attention. But the book of nursery rhymes is something special, and there are days where she spends half an hour or more with it in her lap.
We read it together, and she “reads” it on her own. Often, she’ll bring it with her when I run on the treadmill, contentedly examining its pages as I pound out a few miles. If you’ve any knowledge of nursery rhymes, you’ll know that many of them are nonsensical when removed from their original political or social context, but this does not deter her. The rhythm and the rhyme and the bright illustrations are enough to bring her back again and again.
She will, on occasion, choose it as her “one last book” before naptime or bed, and I haven’t yet determined whether there’s a deviousness here or not; if we try to cut it short without reading all 100 rhymes, she’ll inform us that there are “more pages in that book.” Or rather, this is what she used to do, until I unknowingly found a workaround to keep us both happy.
At some point in the past few months, I started singing for her as we read. While I’d guess that most of them were once put to music, there are a handful – perhaps a dozen or so – whose tunes I know. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” “Hickory Dickory Dock.” “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” “Three Blind Mice.” “Ring Around the Rosie.”
Now, when she brings the book to me, she almost always asks me to “do the singing ones.” So I do. We flip the pages together and she knows as well as I do where to stop. I sing my way through the book and she is content.
I could learn a lesson or two from my girl and her book of nursery rhymes: that sometimes, rhythm and beauty are meaning enough; that days are better when accompanied by music; that maybe, the best approach to life is to “do the singing ones,” to find the stories and the projects and the ministries for which my heart and spirit know the tune and then jump into the song.
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