Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books -- source of our kids' intellect

If we encountered a man or rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week was Book Week at Princess’ school. It culminated in a Book Character Parade today at 9.15am at the school. Oh what fun it was. Principal came as Cruela de Vil – what good sport. Principal’s assistant was the Wicked Witch with a basket full of poison toadstools. Princess and her friend went as Cat in the Hat.

There was Yoda, my favourite. Indiana Jones, another favourite. There were Edwards and Bellas (from the recent Twilight series). One class formed a huge Hungry Caterpillar. We spotted Wally and Caesar, and Robin Hood. Sponge Bob, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine were all on parade.

It was fun for the kids. An entire school, including the school caretaker, got to dress up as a character (from a book, oh well, film that made it to bookdom as well).

How many nights have I spent reading and reading Mrs Gaddy the Ghost? How many times since Princess was 3 months did I read and reread Brown bear, brown bear what do you see….and how many times did we read Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things are? Or We are going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one…???

I loved every memory of our bedtime reading. Princess has moved beyond bear hunts and Mrs Gaddy. She is onto bigger books. Her current reading list is an eclectic mix of Lang Lang's Journey of a Thousand Miles (world famous pianist’s biography), Anne Frank’s Diary; and a couple of other popular books for teenagers. She told me today none of her classmates knew the quiz question on The Secret Garden. I am glad I introduced her early to Frances Hodgson Burnett. Between then and now, we have built quite a library. Last year, we parted finally, with Geronimo Stilton, our beloved reporter mouse with a small heart. We also sold our entire Roald Dahl collection on Trade Me. The sale was sad but necessary. Space at home is finite. Our love for books is infinite. We are clutching onto an entire collection of Lemony Snickett, and a whole series of Colin Thompson's How to Live Forever and others.

I have no regrets spending all the money I spent on books. I am sure I will buy more as the years go by but we are at this space where I can share books with Princess. I would still like her to read teenage books though she has read bits of April Fool’s Day and found it too depressing to move on. She has also read parts of my Orson Scott-Card’s Ender’s Game and yet to catch on to the story-telling brilliance ala Scott-Card.

Books are a treasure. We don’t put dog ears on our books. We don’t deface books by scribbling on them. We don’t stress their spines by folding a whole lot of pages together. Books are almost objects of worship at home. They give us a space to retreat, to reminisce, to laugh, to wonder, to inspire, and renew ourselves daily. Ah, the beauty we call books!