I have a photo of my daughter as a young tot, sitting perched amongst a pile of books, flipping through a Sandra Boynton board book and "reading." I recall dreaming of the day my daughter could really read, and hoped this was something we could share together.
Fast-forward several years: My daughter started school, and reading was the forefront. Sight words, book orders and "just right" books came home in her backpack. I started getting report cards evaluating things like "fluency" and "comprehension." We got letters about how important frequency of reading is – and charts to go along with these.
I dutifully followed along with everything, and indeed, my daughter started reading. Quite well, too. She even seemed to like it.
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Still, something was missing.
Why did she only read in the evenings? Why not on wet, dreary afternoons? Or summertime? Or when there was nothing to do? I wanted to see her love reading.
It had to happen, right? Maybe it just took the right book at the right time or something.
Maybe I had to be some sort of book matchmaker. Or sing the praises of books more. Or mix reading with cookies. Everything's better with cookies, right?
So I shot an email out to several neighborhood moms: Maybe over the summer, we could do a book club with the girls. I didn't have a particular book in mind, but if people were interested, maybe we could find a time?
Several emails and weeks later, about a half-dozen mother/daughter pairs met for too many cookies, with each mom and daughter carrying their own favorite book to share. The plan was for the girls to talk about a book they enjoy, and for the mothers to share their childhood favorites. It was fun to hear the titles the girls had brought along – a few silly books, a few classics, one local author – and I was proud of how my 9-year-old daughter spoke about her favorite parts from Black Beauty.
But it was the mothers who exceeded my expectations – and alleviated my fear that I was some lone geek for really "hearting" Little Women, or admitting Ramona and Her Father made me cry when I read it to my daughter.
I wasn't. Many of the moms had their original, worn and torn favorite books: Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables. Some were misty-eyed as they spoke of being swept away by the characters. Others spoke of how originally their mother read to them, but then they read to their mothers. Another recounted how she invented her own magical "purple crayon" like the one in Harold and the Purple Crayon. One mom even had her own poetry she wrote back in the fourth grade.
We were saps about it, really. Or as one of the sappier moms said, "This is magical."
The club continues. We've met monthly or so, allowing each host to select the book for each meeting. Sometimes the books have been hits; other times, they meet some dissent.
My daughter is reading more, sometimes for our homespun club, sometimes for school. And sometimes, it must be a pretty good book she's into, because it's hard to get her moving onto another activity, which is kind of annoying. Until I realize that's the kind of reading I've been waiting for all along.