Yes! The Hippopotamus!

OK, so I made lots of mistakes as a mom.  And without question, starting on Prozac 20 years before I finally gave in would have made our household much calmer and more pleasant for all concerned. But even so, there are a couple of things that I’m proud of, and reading to my kids is one of them.

Reading together was my great joy.  I loved it, the kids loved it, and we had a nightly routine built around it. We started with Hop on Pop (Dr. Seuss, of course), and worked our way up to The Hobbit, the last book we read together as a threesome.  In between, we covered so many great books, even if some took a little editing (It took me years before I could read out loud the entire Babar the Elephant book, because the mom dies early on and it would choke me up.).  If the Harry Potter books had been available when I was raising my kids, they would have had a place of honor on our reading list.

So perhaps my favorite discovery from my trip to the UK last month was seeing that our reading out loud tradition had moved onto the next generation.  As I listened to Carolyn do a dramatic reading of Not the Hippopotamus, I just beamed.

After all, I am a self-diagnosed drama queen, and reading those books out loud with great expression both vocally and facially was the best part of saying goodnight!

Lucas plainly eats it up.  He brings tattered, beloved cardboard copies of numerous Sandra Boynton books (she is the best!) to hear over and over and over again. Lucas is lucky to have the Pigeon books available to him – they weren’t around when our kids were little and they are just marvelous. (Thanks to my niece, Amy, for introducing us to them.)

Fun to read and plainly fun to hear.  We were also delighted that Carolyn and Juan Carlos are starting to introduce Lucas to Dr. Seuss (Red Fish, Blue Fish anyone?), mostly because I’m dying to read him Horton Hatches the Egg, my all time favorite children’s book.

Other favorites?  Goodnight Moon, of course. The Going to Bed Book, another Sandra Boynton classic. When the kids were older, we loved reading The Secret Garden together, using the old version with Tasha Tudor’s lush illustrations.

I have to stop because I love this topic so much that I’ll lose you before I get to the most important part.  What were your favorite books growing up? Do you have memories of your mom or dad reading out loud to you?  What books have you read out loud to your children?

Share, please!


11 Responses

  1. A subject near and dear to my heart! My father read to my brother and I as children and I think The Hobbit was our grand finale as well.

    Have you heard of the Knuffle Bunny books? There are three:
    Kunffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
    Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
    Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion

    I am certain your grandchildren and those on bedtime reading duty will thoroughly enjoy… Best if read in sequential order.

    • I haven’t heard of the Knuffle bunnies, but with a name like that, it has to be a winner! Thanks for sending on the suggestions! They are now on my list!

      • Thanks to your blog post, I discovered that the Knuffle Bunny books and the Pigeon books you reference are by the same person! Three cheers for Mo Willems!

  2. I was read to when I was a child- every night. My favorites were Barbar the Elephant , anything Dr. Seuss, Curious George and when I was older Little House on the Prairie and Nancy Drew series.

    Doug and I read to our children every night from the time they were little babies, and our kids got accustomed to the fact that no matter what went on during the day, one of us would always sit down with them at the end of the day before bed to read. I would buy books that were nostalgic to me, that I wanted to share with my kids like Green Eggs and Ham, The Poky Little Puppy, Make Way for Duckings, and Corduroy. We’d mix a few new ones in, gifts from friends that quickly became favorites like The Kissing Hand, Nell Nugget and the Cow Caper (super fun to read out loud), The Baby Blue Cat series (The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No, The Baby Blue Cat and the Whole Plate of Cookies), and of course, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (My oldest will take this one with her on babysitting “gigs” to read to her cousins!)

    At 10 and almost 13, they both love to read, and still read (quietly to themselves) before bed each night.

    I am proud to have passed on my love of reading to my children, and I hope they do the same to theirs. It is truly a gift!

  3. Funny — Leah and I were just reminiscing about the books she loved. The ones I can remember are Maira Kalman’s Max books, Shel Silversteins poetry, and a book of classic fairy tales.

  4. One of Griff’s and my favs was “Is your mama a llama?” – a fun rhyming book! We’re now reading lots of Barefoot Books (great illustrations) and Mother Goose.

    • Barefoot Books… haven’t heard of them but am definitely going to check them out! And I love Is Your Mama a Llama! Thanks, Gillian!

  5. I don’t remember my mom reading to me but remember books & library visits being a part of life forever. Matthew’s favs were Sandra Boynton- a new mother’s savior !!- He also loved Eric Carle “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and “Polar Bear, Polar Bear” (they both have theatrical reading opportunities) later he loved “Mike Mulligan & His Steamshovel” (one of my hubby’s favs as a kid by Virginia Lee Burton) and “Whingdingdilly” by the great Bill Peet. Great job, Mom, for instilling a great gift that keeps giving!

  6. I read to my boys nearly every night when they were little, and for a long while after they learned to read themselves. It was one of those routines we enjoyed together.

    My favorites included George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, Henry & Ribsy by Beverly Cleary (I adored her books when I was growing up), Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (a great find at a school book fair), the first three Harry Potter books, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Haven’t read to them in a while — they’re getting ready to go off to college. 🙂

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