I love books. I am known to make swooning comments about books, like “Books can take you places you have never been!” (These comments have inspired my friends and family to roll their eyes and say, “Okay, Reading Rainbow!”)

My nose has constantly been in a book since I was young. I know this because my old favorite picture books even inspire nostalgia. Occasionally I’ll come across a picture book at the library or a garage sale, and just the sight of it will make me feel embraced by an old friend. I have read this book—this book is a part of my past. It is a part of who I am and who I have become. There is a certain comfort that, while everything in life has changed, the book has stayed the same.

I still have my old copy of The Giving Tree—I know it was mine because Vivvi recently became hooked on it, which is apt, since she just turned 3.



When I was in first and second grades I won Young Authors. I then became totally full of myself and bombed all future elementary school young author attempts. I remember a particularly pathetic story submitted for my 5th grade Young Authors, where I tried writing about my Golden Retreiver eating my hot dog whole and then puking it up whole a few minutes later. I was so scarred by the journey-of-the-whole-hot-dog affair that I thought it deserved to be a 16-page hand-illustrated book. I did not win that year. I worked my Young Authors wins into the story because it demonstrates how much I loved books, and also because I can now show you myself with the other winners that year, one of whom is my current brother-in-law (on the far left).


Readers are generally the best people. If you tell me you are a reader, I instantly like you more. Not that I only like readers, though. I vowed to live with a non-reader til death do us part, you know. My mother-in-law told me I’d never make him a reader, which I never intended to do. But suddenly this year he started reading, and because I have a lifetime of books to choose from to press into his hand, I was able to give him a line-up of only 5-star books, and now I am married to a man who I catch sneaking a few pages during TV timeouts. It is not that my love for him wasn’t complete or whole before. But if my complete and total love for him were a house, the house now has an incredible addition.

So when I was pregnant for the first time, I didn’t care about anything else—I just wanted a child who reads. Lord, I’d pray, make this child healthy and easy to take care of and kind and not a serial killer if you can, but for sure just give me a reader. So He gave me a colicky little fireball who hit me at 9 months old, but he gave me a reader. And I was happy.

But for real, WV was always active and always full of energy, and the only time he’d sit still once he was mobile was when I’d read him stacks and stacks of books. So that is what we did. My favorite discovery ever was when I would leave him in a room by himself for a while, and he’d be quiet—too quiet. So I’d go to check on him, expecting some kind of a permanent marker disaster or that he had electrocuted himself or that he’d left me forever to start his path toward becoming a serial killer, and instead I’d find him surrounded by every book in the room. No, he was not an easy baby, but somehow this is my frozen memory of him at 1 year old. This was redemption.

WV reads

And now, I read chapter books to this kid at night. We have done Roald Dahl, Magic Treehouse, Captain Underpants (so inappropriate, but so so good), and now we are reading the first Harry Potter, which was my parent-lifelong dream.

But we started this chapter book adventure with one of my old friends, Charlotte’s Web. This was another one that was a gift I held onto:


The book deals with friendship, and character, and life and death in such a beautiful and gentle way. I teared up when I read him this part:

“’Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.'”

I’m sure this part meant nothing to me as a child—but man, it’s beautiful to read now. And when we read, WV can absorb it, and I know that he is, because he asks questions about things after. And we can talk about big things like dying in a way that is not scary. This is part of why reading to him is sometimes the best part of my day. (This, and his giggles over Doctor Diaper, or Fred and George Weasley saying, “Ickle Ronnykins”…)

So maybe I was wrong earlier when I said it is so comforting that the book has not changed. It is probably comforting because, although the book has not changed, the reader has. I have changed because of the books I have read, and because of the crazy ride of life; and a book, especially from my own childhood, can remind me of how I have changed and if I have grown. And I can return to these books and they can continue to change me again and again. (You see? Reading rainbow eye-roll!)

So now you know why, when Wally read his first very simple early reader book on his own the other day, it was one of my biggest parenting wins. And when I catch my kids fighting over books, I am so…proud? It makes me feel like a butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high, take a look, it’s in a book…

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