Monday, December 22, 2008

One of the things I had jotted down on my seemingly endless to-do list was: bookshelves? Just like that, with the question mark and everything. The use of that particular punctuation mark seems a bit ridiculous. It'd be more accurate to write: bookshelves. Or: bookshelves! Or even: bookshelves... Because there's no question about it: we need more bookshelves.

I guess the question mark is a gesture toward the slight embarrassment I feel when I look around our living room and count seven bookshelves. Up in Jeff's office there are three more. Charlotte's room has a shelving unit that has become the book depository. And still we have stacks of books everywhere: on our dressers, desks, dining table, floor.

Each of the kids' rooms got a new bookshelf today. Just a cheap-o three-tier particle board bookshelf--nothing to get too excited about. But Charlotte did get excited about them. "Ooh, my new bookshelf!" she exclaimed as we set it up in her room. And then, without a hint of sarcasm (she is only 2 1/2), she said "Let's put some books on it! How fun!" Then she went to find her pocket protector and hiked her pants up to her armpits. I'm raising a dork.

I need no genetic testing to tell me that this is my child, and Jeff's. One childhood memory that has stuck with me is that of visiting the public library, and getting to check out a paper grocery sack's worth of library books on a weekly basis. That towering stack of books that I'd pile up next to my bed seemed like an endless repository of adventure. I loved to read. Loved. I devoured books. I'm still endlessly grateful to my parents for nurturing this love of reading, as it has led to my ability today to read voraciously, tirelessly, and quickly--a great skill to have as a graduate student.

Jeff's love of books is more that of the aesthete. He is not a speed-reader (and is sometimes very resentful of the fact that I am). His pace could best be described as plodding. But he savors the words he reads, slowly absorbing them and computing and finding depths of meaning in texts that I might miss.

Charlotte has inherited my voracious appetite for books, and Jeff's attention to details and words. She loves to be read to, and will ask anyone she meets to do so. Every week or so she has a new favorite book, one that she'll want to have read repeatedly, even though I know she knows it by heart. (This week's book is "Snow" by P.D. Eastman; yesterday, I heard her "read" most of the book, fairly accurately, to herself. Nothing is cuter). She has learned about rhymes, and will call out when something rhymes (hence another new favorite, "There's a Wocket in my Pocket" by Dr. Seuss). She'll listen to the language and pays attention to the illustrations, noticing emotions on the faces of the characters, or when the dog from the previous page is missing, for example.

One of the things she promises the baby is that "she'll read him her books." I have no doubt she'll make good on that promise. And that's one of the images that made me confident that I wanted a second child, no matter how unpleasant pregnancy might have been: the picture I had in mind of Charlotte and a younger sibling reading books together on the couch. That's about as utopian as I can imagine things.


momdadtig said...

...and there's a few more, I'm afraid, coming for Christmas. But how great to have variety when she loves them so much. And they're just so darn much fun to shop for! The family picture was great! I'm thrilled the outfit fits so well. Can't wait to see everyone--it's been way too long.

Dale Deur said...

Did you let Charlotte help you assemble the shelves? She was a VERY good and enthusiastic helper when I put together the other 42 or so shelves when we moved you guys in...