“What should we play this morning, Simon?” I ask after breakfast.
That’s my kid. My two-year old loves books. He wants to read books again and again and again, momma. He wants books first thing after snuggles in the morning, while he sits on the potty, on the couch, on the floor, in the car, and last thing at night. One day, when we had something important to get to in the afternoon, we actually hid the new books to help get out of the house.
After Simon has read the book repeatedly, eyes wide and searching, he wants to “look at the book.” This means going page by page and asking questions and making observations about what is going on in each picture. He then pulls out his favorite lines from books verbatim without context as he goes through his day. Often a book quote is the first thing out of his mouth in the morning. He acts books out in great detail. He runs his fingers along the words, pretending to read.
Simon’s love of books challenges me to be critical of the stories he ingests. I started making minor changes to the words like this:
(Gender fluidity is coming soon.) Walking up the stairs yesterday he said, “Hey you guy and gals, let’s get to work!” Success.
Then Simon found Dan’s old Davy Crockett book. He wanted to read it again and again and wanted to wrestle me as Chief Red Stick. I knew it was time to do a book purge. Snow White was the first to go. A beautiful woman cooks and cleans house for seven small guys who are protecting her from a woman jealous of her good looks? Nope. Once the purge of plot lines starts, where does it stop? Are pirates ok? How about princesses? Guns? Death?
Simon loves books based on animals: Mercy Watson, Frog and Toad, Curious George, and Arthur to name a few. But his people stories have a whole lot of white dudes having all the fun. I want him exposed to people who look and think differently from him, widening his vocabulary and play, expanding his world. We started researching books. Some highlights from our initial library run include:
The Hello, Goodbye Window
One Word from Sophia
In the Small, Small Night
The Elephant From Bagdad
Chirchir is Singing
And just for fun, a book about dots, Press Here.
Albena and Kofi are the main characters in In the Small, Small Night. The book uses folklore from Ghana, and just the other day I heard Simon say, “Listen with your ears open,” later crawling slowly across our carpet quoting the turtle, “Hand come, hand go.” I smiled. It’s a start.