Mother of the Library Books

When I was volunteering in the school library when my boys were little, the bilingual students called me, "La madre de los libros librarios", the Mother of the Library Books. I've always like being the Mother of the Library Books, and the mom of the library boys.

I started reading chapter books to my kids when J.T. was five and M.J. was two and a half. I admit that I started this suppertime ritual for selfish reasons. Their dad was doing a lot of traveling for work, and also for his karate hobby. He headed off for a month in Korea when S.C. was barely two months old. If I read picture books during meals, the boys were too distracted by the illustrations to eat. Chapter books kept them listening while munching on all their finger foods. Yes, they were slow, and sometimes picky eaters. Reading kept me from feeling frustrated.

My boys liked the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I heard them say, "Let's play Laura and Mary" as often as "Let's play firemen". It didn't occur to them that Laura and Mary were girls. They put a stuffed animal under the bed to be Jack, the brindle bulldog, and used the headboard of the bed for the driver's seat of their covered wagon. The same headboard made a good hook and ladder firetruck.

After Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and On the Banks of Plum Creek, we read Farmer Boy. That became their favorite.

Our suppertime chapters continued when we moved to Oklahoma. It kept things calm on evenings when my spouse was away teaching tae kwon do. Stories made the transition from supper to baths and bedtime somewhat less chaotic. Other read-aloud favorites were A Cricket in Times Square, The Enormous Egg, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

This mother is still learning, and still reading aloud. I started reading Little House in the Big Woods to my culturally-diverse students during their snack time. What I remembered about the book was the self-sufficiency, how the family worked together, the strong character of the Ingalls parents. I remembered how Laura and Mary played with their corncob dolls amidst the pumpkins and squash in the attic without any Disney princesses or registered-trademark movie tie-ins.

Oops! The whole first chapter is about hanging deer carcasses in the trees so the wolves don't get them, shooting a bear, smoking and salting meat and fish, and slaughtering the family pig complete with extensive details about making sausage and headcheese. The little vegetarian kids were staring at me like deer in the headlights! Speaking of which, I don't think I'll be reading Bambi anytime soon.

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