Raising Star Readers is delighted to introduce a new Reading Team, this one led by children’s book author Catherine Urdahl. Here, Catherine shares some heartwarming reading moments, with enough book-love and remembered summer sunshine to take the chill out of the coldest of December winds:
I read to my daughters from the time they were infants, and now I have the joy of reading to my two-year-old granddaughter Juni and my new grandson Colby. This is my favorite time.
We especially enjoy books that create a shared experience, lines we repeat together or a word that always makes us laugh. Rattletrap Car (by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Jill Barton) is one of our favorites, and not only because one of the characters is named “Junie.” Our Juni was about 18 months when we first read it together, at our house on a Minnesota lake. When she heard the fourth line—‘Let’s go to the lake,’ said Junie and Jakie—Juni pointed out the window and shouted, “THAT’S THE LAKE!” It became one of the books she read at Grandma’s house, sometimes in front of the window, sometimes (even better!) outside.
Hearing her name and connecting the book lake to the real lake are part of the appeal. But the book’s wonderful language and sounds keep us coming back. (Papa turned the key, brum, brum, brum, brum. Clinkety clankety bing bang pop! And that’s just a small sample…) We say the words together, or I stop to let Juni fill in. The experience changes as she grows, but the book remains a tradition that connects us from visit to visit.
This reminds me of another book tradition, two generations back. Every time we’d visit my grandparents’ farm, Grandpa Gerhard — a farmer without much time to read — would gather the grandchildren and read The Cow in the Silo (by Patricia Goodell, illustrated by Dellwyn Cunningham). One of my cousins found the book on eBay a few years ago and made copies for everyone. It’s one of my most prized possessions.
Finding connection in a book is magical. Another of Juni’s favorites is The Sandcastle that Lola Built (by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Kate Berube). Whenever we read it at my house, Wisconsinite Juni waits for the entry of the character “Minnesota Girl,” then stabs her little finger into the air and shouts, “This is Minnesota!” Then we laugh.
On warm days, when we build sandcastles on the beach, Juni remembers the book and asks for sea glass to signal the mermaids, just like Lola. (Sea glass is hard to find at a small Minnesota lake.)
Of course, our favorite book changes, depending on the day. Lately, Wild Baby (by Cori Doerrfeld) is at the top of the pile. We notice the mama’s expressions as her baby runs off. Is she happy? Or angry? Why? We love hearing the playful, poetic text and tracking the impending danger in the vivid illustrations. When the branch breaks, saving the baby monkey, we yell SNAP! And then there’s the cuddle moment at the end. Is the mama happy? Yes!
I love seeing books became such a big part of Juni’s life. I love how she gathers a pile of books and insists “I’M READING NOW!” when it’s time for dinner, bed, a bathroom break, etc. (Perhaps the grandparent perspective differs a bit from the parent’s.)
A few weeks ago, I saw the sweetest book moment EVER — Juni reading to her baby brother, taking his tiny hand and helping him turn a page.
Already, she’s sharing the book-love.
Bookology is always looking for new Reading Teams to help us celebrate the joys of reading aloud together. Contact Lisa Bullard for further information if you’re interested in participating.