Monday, March 14, 2011

The Magical Powers of Books

I remember when Samantha was a baby, putting books on her high chair tray to amuse her while Mommy and Daddy quickly scarfed down their own meals (dinnertime was never particularly relaxing...).  We were amazed to find that no matter how the books were set down in front of her, she always turned them right-side up, carefully paging through from right to left, ensuring that no pages were inadvertently missed, no page was left unturned.

I read to her often, although I felt at the time that it wasn't enough.  The diagnosis of Down syndrome, to me at least, meant that I must have to do double-time on academics and well-rounded experiences.  Not like I was about to make her sit and listen to me recite the contents of my dust-covered collection of college notebooks, but I felt that I could cause her to suffer setbacks because I didn't expose her to enough classical music in the car, or didn't sing enough to her, or didn't read the right books, and so on and so forth.  Actually, I had words with Steve one day because I felt that he didn't sing enough to her.  Really?

I don't know if Sammi's love of books is innate, genetic (I could never keep my nose out of books, was the first child reading in my Kindergarten class, and read Stephen King's "The Stand" at age 11!), or a result of our early efforts, but let's just say, it appears that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.

Samantha is happiest, no matter where we are, when books are available.  Read a book to her once, and she'll recite the story back, page by page, on her own, in her own slightly alternate take on it.  Take her to someone else's house, and issues of Washingtonian, or Better Homes and Gardens become just as fascinating to page through as one of her own children's tales, fascinating to us as well, as she makes up stories about the pictures on the page.  Take her to a book store, and she's in her element.

An impromptu playdate at Borders on Saturday morning provided a sweet photo opportunity, but first, standing in the checkout line, Samantha proved to me the value of her education-to-date, and the impact of the childhood literary greats on her young mind:

Sammi (excitedly):  "Look Mommy, Dr. Seuss books!"

Me (whaaa...?):  "Where, baby?"

Sammi (pointing to the wall behind the register):  "Right there!"

And sure enough, there was an entire shelf full of Dr. Seuss books on display, from Cat in the Hat to Oh the Places You'll Go.  All of my inadequacies as a parent suddenly flashed in front of me, as I realized that I never knew Samantha even knew who or what Dr. Seuss was, or if I had ever even read a Dr. Seuss book to her (other than Green Eggs and Ham, but the words "Dr." and "Seuss" probably never passed my lips).  Had I missed an important boat?  Was I actually relying on her school to be her sole source of education?  Why hadn't I thought of that? 

I am exaggerating, but I'm sure at least some of you know what I'm talking about...

Three books-worth and a coffee-shop visit poorer in my wallet, there's nothing like the joy of a child, some chocolate milk, and her new books. 

13 comments:

tekeal said...

ALWAYS fun to hear of your adventures :-)

Alicia said...

love it :) i wish we had more the culture of reading. honestly i dont read much, so to the result I dont read to Elis much, or anything, so Elias doesnt do it either... yeah, bad momma! i know. but is just one of those things i know i have to do, and better if is earlier, not that at 6 yrs is early lol.
anyway, wtg Sammi! looks like you scored with a a mommy who thinks ahead :)

Cathleen said...

Lilly loves books too! And same thing re: picking up the books the right way and turning carefully each page and reading them back in "her" version of the story, from a young age - for some reason in evaluations they were always surprised that Lilly knew how to read a book the proper way when she was 1 or 2. She'll read anything - from children's books to Neurosurgery journals. I was so proud of her when she was 2 and could pick out "Suri Cruise" and "Brad Pitt" out of OK Australia magazine. :) Love how reading about Sammi is just like reading about Lilly.

Carol N. said...

Love the photos too - and sounds like the perfect reason to empty your wallet.

Rochelle said...

Both our kids love books too. As a former educator it makes my heart glad. Although sometimes I have to take Alayna away from her books to do something else more PT like LOL!

Becca said...

Let me just state, for the record, that we did *not* necessarily read her the "right" books...we just encouraged books in general. And the books we buy for her currently are *not* necessarily "literary greats." They're books based on the cartoons she likes, or the standard fairy tales. *Those* are the books she connects with, the ones she embraces most of all, the ones she learns from and *wants* to learn from. Do what your child enjoys! Mine happens to enjoy TV, perhaps a little too much. Books about the TV shows she watches are a sure fire way to catch her interest.

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

Love the pix! love the playdate!! Dr Suess is a personal boyfriend of mine! I love him and try to rhyme everything! But I do think Dr Suess is an older reading audience...I think he gets to long...I agree that I over do things becuase I think I can not waste a moment or I may put Maddie back on development milestones! great post..smiles

Courtney said...

Your little girl is ADORABLE!!!

Roo's Mom said...

Great post! I wasn't much of a reader when I was a young child. Now I read constantly for pleasure and otherwise, and can't imagine a day going by without a book in my hand at some point. Roo loves books too, and she will often hole herself up in her room, making a big stack of her books on the floor and going through them one by one. She is reading at roughly a 1st grade level now, even if not fluently, and I have high hopes for her to carry a love of the written word with her throughout life.

Lacey said...

She sounds like me! I would read all day long. When I was younger I would go to the library and check out 7 or 8 Babysitters club, and read them all in a couple of days!

Deanna said...

What a smart little girl! Addison is just in the phase where she likes to eat books...I worry every day that I don't read enough to her. It's true that we feel that we need to do extra to "make up" for the Ds. It looks like you're doing a marvelous job. (-:

Melissa said...

I cannot wait for the day that Claire see books as something other than a teether. Right now books are a supervised activity or else she injests way too much paper...We started reading to Claire at bed early and I can tell she enjoys the books and the routine. But she doesn't like books other times of the day. Guess I need to start getting making them part of the daytime routine too.

doozee said...

Oh, do I ever hear you!!! I was the biggest bookworm growing up and now I find Micah READING TO MOXIE. Yes. He, at 2 years old, memorizes the books we read to him, then recites them back to her. She, for her part, perks up considerably whenever a book is placed by her. So much so that the PT is now just bringing books to entertain and motivate her. HA. So good to see Sammi so into it. I'm looking forward to my girl getting excited over Seuss too!