A few days ago I got out several "chapter books" and let the Sweet Girl choose what we would read next. She's been very excited lately about the notion of "chapter books" -- which in this context simply means bigger kid books divided into chapters -- since she seems to realize it's a sign of growing up. The other day she asked me if we could read "Wilbur" again sometime (i.e. Charlotte's Web) and of course I said yes. Then she asked, a little worriedly, "Are you big enough for Wilbur?" (referencing herself with the "you" there). I had to laugh. She was, of course, "big enough" this past summer even before she turned four. She practically hung on every word.
This time around she chose Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. I was very happy about that as I always seem to get a yen to read Cleary in the fall, maybe because so many of her stories seem set around back-to-school time. I think the cover illustration of Ribsy in the bathtub is what really snagged her attention, and thus far the bathtub scene has been her favorite. Who wouldn't get the giggles when listening to a story about a dog in a bath with lots and lots of violet scented bubbles?
It's always fascinating to guage her growing interactions with stories. We read a bunch of Cleary a couple of years ago, on road trips -- sort of "road testing" these books that neither of us had read in years, seeing if they were as good as we remembered (they were) before our daughter got old enough to read them. At that time, she was a toddlerish two, a sort of sweet lump of cuteness sucking her fingers in her carseat and falling asleep if I read too long (we'd just keep going and finish the stories ourselves). Now I can hardly read a paragraph (sometimes more like two sentences!) before she interrupts with questions. She's been a bit worried about ol' Ribsy this time around, asking anxiously "WHY can't Ribsy find Klickitat Street?" I made a parental decision to forgo the gifts of suspense and anticipation this time around in order to allay her fears. I told her Ribsy would find Henry again, and I used the opportunity to teach her the word "perseverance" as in "Ribsy perseveres; he keeps trying and trying to get home to Henry!"
It's interesting what words she picks up on too. One begins to realize how much of the vocabulary that seems most foreign to her is old-fashioned vocabularly we don't use much these days. She's asked me why some people call Ribsy "fellow" and was curious about the "cloakroom" in the classroom. She gets the giggles almost every time someone refers to poor lost Ribsy as "pooch" too.
I love Beverly Cleary, but this is definitely the most fun I've ever had reading one of her books. I love having a growing and learning listener right beside me!