Sunday, July 14, 2013

Princesses and Paperbacks

As a child I was an avid reader. By avid reader I mean I was pretty much consumed by a need to be one with the written word. My earliest memories involve books. Below is a picture of the first book I remember, a scrumptious over-sized Disney Book published in the early 70's based on the original Cinderella. (You might be able to see where I marked my book as my "property" in the upper right hand corner of the picture. I was big on putting my name in my books. I had 4 siblings.) 

Cinderella was also instrumental in the development of my preference for actually reading books as opposed to being read to.  I have dim memories of being read to by my grandmother but I have pretty vivid memories of being read to by the stereo. My brothers and I had a set of Disney record albums, which, of course, inlcuded, Cinderella:

The problem with these Disney story-book albums is that they were short on "story" and long on music. This, as I discovered later, is as it should be on albums - which are for music and which are not books. (That being said, I will always have a warm, fuzzy feeling for the quite tuneful "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" although I can't say that song was the catalyst for my love of music - that would have to be Elvis Presley's smooth voice and swivelin' hips, which are  future blog fodder for sure!)

Nothing more awesome and joyful could happen to a bibliophile than watching her child discover the joys of reading. There is just nothing like it! And, luckily, I have 3 reading-inclined offspring!  I've thought about how I got so lucky, and it's possible that this happy  development may be related to the fact that we have a library in our house - as opposed to the ubiquitous home-theater. ( My only television has a screen slightly larger than my lap-top.  People persist in making fun of it.  They silently wonder if I am that poor - after all, I do work for a non-profit).

Ariel, my 25 year old, is not only an avid reader, she is a compulsive lover of words themselves; she reads books about words.  I have a picture of middle-school Ariel reading a book at a Spurs game.  Now I understand that as robust San Antonio basketball fans we may disapprove of this practice, but mothers of middle-schoolers everywhere are envious and appreciative.  Ariel not only held the Thousand Oaks Elementary School Accelerated-Reader-Program highest points record for several years, but she grew up to obtain an English degree at Trinity University and is currently a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  This is one joyful mama.  (She is also the one person I know who has possibly read more books than I.  Substantial books, that is - I hold records for most Harlequin romances read in my early teens.  No need to judge.) 

Lacey, my middle child, about to be a junior at Texas State, reads on-line.  This perplexes me, although I have taught myself to appreciate the fact that that she is reading rather than the fact that I perceive what she is reading to be of dubious quality (fan-fiction anyone?).  Because we read in different worlds, we can't share.  I asked her to give me an example of some fan fiction she read that I might appreciate and her reply was, "I cant think of anything I have found that you might appreciate. :/"  This is astounding given all the things we have in common, our many diverse interests and the amount of time she spends on line reading, but it's probably true.  Her inclusion of the :/ emoticon denotes her acknowledgement of the outrageousness of her statement.  (We'll just have to stick to music and Twitter where we happily share and evaluate on a regular basis.)

This brings me to Zoe and the impetus for this blog post.  Zoe is 11 and finally beginning to appreciate books!  As so often happens, there was a catalyst book and for Zoe it was "Dying To Meet You; 43 Old Cemetery Road".  Before this book she read because she had to.  Now she reads because of the endless, amazing, thought-provoking possibilities of the story.  And she wants to talk about what she has read, unsolicited by me.  She's hooked!  She was so enamored with this catalyst book that she would not rest until I had read it too.  We all know how that feels, right?  Having read something so fabulous that we want everyone else to experience it along with us?

These days, what is even more joyful than watching Zoe's initial discovery is that she is now reading all my childhood favorites (which in addition to being super-freaking-cool thankfully requires no re-reading by me in order for us to discuss).  This picture shows Zoe with book 5 of the Betsy-Tacy-Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace, beloved childhood staple of mine. I can remember the most obscure details of these sweet, lovely stories yet I probably couldn't come up with most of the titles of all the books I have read in the last 3 months.

Right now there are 16 waiting-to-be-read paperback books on the end table beside my bed. Just looking at them makes me happy.  I do most of my reading at night, before bed, when all the things that I absolutely have to do that day are done.  I slip under the covers and blissfully enter another world.  Knowing that I have passed on this pastime to my kids is immensely gratifying.  It's something they'll always have, and something we'll always have in common.  And I owe it all to Cinderella.  She gets a lot of flak sometimes, but I unabashedly love her.  (And coincidentally, isn't it magical that I started this blog yesterday morning and last night Zoe's dad sent me this picture of her from her day at Disneyland.) 

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