My daughter, Megan, is 3 ("and a half," she always reminds me) but already a big lover of books. We have our nightly routine of reading together, but I've been noticing how many of the books are becoming old friends, characters we refer to as if we know them. I guess we do.
There's Harriet Harris, from Mem Fox's Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild! (Megan can repeat the line, "Harriet Harris, what are we to do? Harriet Harris, I'm talking to you!") Another Mem Fox favorite is Koala Lou. We say together, "Koala Lou, I do love you" just like her mother repeats in the book, and I try not to choke up at the part where Koala Lou's mother hugs her for a very long time. We also enjoy Catalina Madelina (Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan), illustrated by Tedd Arnold. No David is a favorite, as well as Gerald the giraffe in Giraffe's Can't Dance. Beatrice Bottomwell, The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes, is a character Megan knows by name.
Recently, we read Who Is Sick Today? by Lynne Cherry. This is a fun rhyming book, full of animals and their illnesses. On one page, the book says "Young stoats with sore throats." Megan thought the stoats were adorable and wanted one for her birthday. Not that I was seriously considering a stoat (which I never heard of before), but just to find out more information, we googled stoats. Megan loved looking at all the images of stoats and wouldn't stop talking about stoats!
Her love affair with the stoat ended, though. Megan wanted to know what stoats eat, and was rather horrified to discover they eat bunnies! She then wanted to know what animals eat stoats (dogs,foxes, and large cats).
It's amazing how simply reading a book together at bedtime leads to such interesting conversations, questions, and even research. All of the language and thinking that was involved in discussing a stoat was rich and meaningful, bringing new words and ideas to Megan's growing schema.
There are not many things I can pass onto my children- I don't know how to cook or bake, I'm not great with a checkbook, I can't sew, I'm terrible at sports. But, what I can do, the best thing I can do- is pass on my love of reading. I can introduce them to books and characters and make sure reading is always a part of their lives.