It's always been a tradition, but things have gotten a whole lot more interesting around here because we've started reading chapter books out loud. We just finished Stuart Little, and tonight we started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I never thought I'd be reading chapter books out loud to Bluebird when she was this young, but she's very much into it and is definitely following the story, so we're moving along.
Rabbit loves it too, although she gets up after a couple of pages and goes off to play. (Don't try to start without her though; she has to be included or it's a very ugly sight.)
I bought Stuart Little on a whim; I read or heard somewhere that it was a good read aloud for children as young as three, so I figured I'd give it a go. Bluebird sat next to me for the whole thing, completely caught up in the story. She loved Margalo and was sad when she flew away, her eyes opened wide when Stuart was dumped onto the garbage boat and when we read about Stuart's canoe getting roughed up, she whispered, "Oh no!" and raised her hands to her mouth. (She was actually a little upset about his canoe and felt really bad for Stuart.)
Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed reading board books and short little stories to them; but, at the same time, I was looking forward to the day when we could move onto books that were longer and more interesting. I am so excited that the day has arrived, and so much earlier than originally expected!
When it became obvious to me that reading Stuart Little out loud was a success, I bought four more books: Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach. I laid them out for her tonight and gave her a brief summary about what each was about and let her choose the next one to read. (I was hoping for The Trumpet of the Swan because it was my favorite as a young girl, but what can compete with a story about a chocolate factory?)
Bluebird already likes Charlie and feels bad that he's so hungry. But she's very excited about that chocolate factory that Charlie walks by each day on his way to school...
It is so fun for me to read through my childhood favorites again. Doubly so--it's wonderful to get re-acquainted with some of my favorite characters and it's so heart-warming to see Bluebird discovering these stories for the first time. She doesn't know what an Oompa Loompa is, or who Charlotte is, and she has yet to get caught up in imagining what life would have been like on the prairie...but by reading out loud to her, I get to watch her experience all those wonderful moments and remember the first time I learned about them too.
Reading out loud--now this is definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects about parenthood.