Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Family's Motto: Read, Read

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Family's Motto: Read, Read

Article excerpt

JUNIPER reads to Laura and Amanda in the living room. From my desk, a room away, I miss some of what she reads, but when I have time, I'll pick up the book and catch up. Sometimes I join their reading, but I often have work to do and miss out on part of it.

Reading aloud in this family has gone on for more than 17 years, since soon after Juniper was born. There was an interruption when Juniper and Amanda started public school, last year. For a while, their time was so occupied with school, getting there and back and homework, that there was no time for it.

Amanda didn't like the reduced family time nor the lack of time for her own writing, drawing, and music, and so she returned to home schooling, and the reading started again. She read to Laura while Laura cooked, or Laura read while Amanda worked. Often, I came in from outdoor work or left writing at my desk and went into the kitchen for something I wanted or for company. When I left, I usually said, "Read. Read," indicating that the interruption was over, and they should continue. My words were a reference to the past, when we lived in Whitney Valley in northeastern Oregon.

When Amanda and Juniper were small, they both fit into the rocking chair with Laura. Before bedtime, they moved the old blue rocker (whose noisy springs we all agreed said, "comfort, comfort") close to the wood-burning stove in cold weather or close to the open window when it was hot, and Laura read to them.

Laura has always been an early to bed and early to rise person, and often, while reading, she drifted off to sleep. Sometimes, as she began to drift, the story she was reading got mixed up with her beginning dream, and what she said became uproariously funny for her listeners. They erupted in laughter and talked about what she had said, but then insisted, "Read. Read." Sometimes she woke up enough to finish reading. Sometimes she just couldn't muster the energy, and I snuggled down between the two warm, eager listeners.

I also read to them even when Laura didn't fall asleep. With four of us exploring the library, reading book reviews, and listening to recommendations from people around us, we came up with an ever larger selection of books to read together. I read "Wind in the Willows" to them three times. For a while, when they were small, every time we went out along ditches, down by the river, and out across the meadow, they looked for Moley and Ratty. While I may not have actively joined the search, I hoped they would find the two characters from the book, and I wouldn't have been surprised if they did. The girls felt like Moley in the spring: "Hang spring cleaning." The adventure is outdoors. Seek it.

THEY often became the characters we read about. When Juniper was four, for quite some time, she would answer to no name but "Pooh Bear. …

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