One of my favorite memories as a child is when my mother would take me to the library and I'd crawl between the stacks of books, filling my arms for the week. One winter's night I set three books on top of our car as I pulled on my boots for the drive to the library. When we got there I was petrified to learn that two of the three books met an untimely demise alongside the road. I dreaded going inside. Would they take away my library card? Ban me from ever crawling between the stacks again? I don't remember what was said but I left with another armful of books. Each night, I would crawl into bed with my mother and read to her as she fell asleep. I'd look over at her and think, "Why are you so tired?" I'd read till I got sleepy and then turn off the light. When my father got home from work in the wee hours of the morning he'd carry me to my own bed and then we'd do it all again the next night.
One of my favorite books was the Volume 3 book, Folk and Fairytales in the Childcraft series. I wrote my name in each of those books (the n's are still backwards) and carried them around the house with me. As my mother made dinner I'd read aloud The Little Red Hen (she had lousy friends!) and then flip to Jack and the Beanstalk (how cool was that goose that laid the golden eggs?) or Rumpelstiltskin (who knew straw could be spun into gold!) Today, that Childcraft series sits on my bookshelves and my children pick out their favorite stories. "I didn't know elves made shoes," five-year-old Kate said the first time we read The Shoemaker and the Elves. "Could you feel a pea through that many mattresses?" Gracie asked me after I read The Princess and the Pea. I assured her I could.
Each evening, as I get the girls ready for bed the negotiations begin: "Pick out two stories each," I say.
"Ten stories each," Gracie says.
"We'll be up all night. Three stories each."
"Five. Like me," Kate says.
We settle somewhere in the middle and they both vie for equal lap space as we read some of their favorites like Winnie the Pooh. "Do Pooh Bear and Tigger watch their movies?" Kate asks. Or Snow White. "Don't do the queen's mean voice tonight," Gracie says. "But do all the dwarves." My two-year-old is content to play with his feet and make loud noises. We finish each night reading a couple of chapters from one of the chapter books we may be reading: Charlotte's Web, The Tale of Despereaux, The Penderwicks, the Magic Tree House series or A Wrinkle in Time. No matter how tired I am Gracie says, "We just have to read."
Will it be one of their favorite memories? I hope so. I know it will be one of mine.