Every night after my kids “go to bed” at 8:00, I let them read quietly for an hour or so before real sleeping happens. My eight- and ten-year-old do a pretty good job with this. The five-year-old looks at books and makes up not-so-quiet stories about them and then occasionally causes mayhem. Because that’s us. We roll with the chaos. And by “rolling with the chaos” I mean I yell up the stairs that they need to be quiet or reading time is done. It’s very effective.
Sometimes my son likes to read to his little sister, and even though that obviously isn’t quiet, I encourage this because it’s so great for both of them. He has introduced her to a lot of his favorite chapter books, and she LOVES the time with him. Sometimes I even hear him asking her comprehension questions as they go along and then complimenting her listening skills. They’re adorable little nerdlings.
Where was I? Oh, last week.
Last week, I heard the boy reading out loud upstairs and didn’t think anything of it. Like I said, it happens. It wasn’t until I went up to tell them it was lights out that I saw that my youngest was actually already in bed. The eight-year-old and the ten-year-old were sitting on my bed, each with a big brown book in hand, taking turns reading their favorite poems out loud. It was just so wonderful, you guys. So wonderful that I slowly backed away and gave them an extra fifteen minutes. (And we all know that at bedtime, fifteen minutes is an eternity.)
The books? Shel Silverstein, of course. Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic.
I know that you remember these books from your childhood. I really, really hope you own a copy for your own kids. If not, please buy them. Today.
Some very dear friends gave us these two books when our first baby was born. Over the years, we’ve brought them out from time to time for reading. There was a while when they were younger that we read one or two poems every night before bed. The favorites would be requested over and over to the point where I’m pretty sure my kids could still quote you Hungry Mungry verbatim. Still, we have a big library, and I would say it’s been over a year since we took them off the shelf. Until last week. And last week, listening to them read and laugh and point out the pictures and interrupt each other with “Listen to this one!”, I was reminded all over again what a joy they are.
I hope you haven’t forgotten. If you have, it’s not too late to bring them back. Because you know how poems are supposed to make you feel something? These ones will make you feel happy. Guaranteed.