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.
The last few days have acted like fall. Though the forecast says warm temperatures will return by the end of the week, I’m pretending that the season is here to stay; as I write this in a house darkened by cloudy skies, I’ve got hot tea steeping on the counter, a tasty and filling soup stewing in the slow cooker, and a fire blazing in the wood stove.
It’s the first fire we’ve had this season, and Katie was fascinated with the process. She watched as I laid the wood and struck the match, backing up several steps when I warned her that the stove would soon be hot and she’d need to be careful. We sat together and watched the paper catch, watched the kindling begin to smoke. As the flames licked around the chunk of pine, her eyes lit up.
“Fire, Mama! Like in book!”
“Like in a book? Which book, sweetheart? Can you show me?”
She hopped up and trotted down the hall. Her return journey was a bit slower; she was flipping through the book as she walked, looking for the right page. When she found it, she held it up to me.
“See? Fire, Mama.”
Sure enough, there it was, in Rachel Field’s Prayer for a Child. A little girl, sitting in front of a fireplace, to accompany the words “Bless the lamplight, bless the fire.”
Her memory surprised me; this book came in the mail just a few days ago, a gift from the girls’ Aunt Sarah and, though we’ve read it several times since receiving it, Katie’s never appeared to pay particular attention to that page. There are other, more eye-catching illustrations, other parts of the prayer which relate more directly to her experience. I’d forgotten that the book even mentioned a fire; she’d remembered, and remembered well enough to associate it with something that happened in her life.
It makes me wonder what else she’s seeing, absorbing, retaining from the world around her – both the world of literature and the world we inhabit day-to-day – and how those details are framing and shaping her view. As we sit and read together, what details catch her attention, lodging themselves in her memory? What catches my eye, changing me in ways I don’t realize?
I hope to remember this interaction, this insight, as I bring books into our home, both for her and for me. May I be ever conscious of the messages they carry. May the images they bear, the stories they tell, be those that expand our minds, widening our view, giving us ever more ways to connect to the experiences we have and the people we meet outside of the pages of books. May what we read give us a better understanding of the world we inhabit, a greater love for it and those who dwell here with us.
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