I could read before I could read.
I thought so, anyway. Wasn’t I doing just what Mommy did when she read the book?
But it had to be the book—Teddy Bear of Bumpkin Hollow.* My favorite. The one I begged to have read—over and over and over.
Thing was, I heard it so often, I learned the entire narrative by heart. And the illustrations clearly signaled when to turn pages.
So sometimes I got my begging request, and other times, well, I just “read it to myself.” Right out loud. I still remember some of it by heart, even in my aging adulthood:
“Teddy was a little brown bear. He was just about the cutest little brown bear that ever lived in Bumpkin Hollow. But he had one very bad habit. No matter what his Mother told him to do, Teddy wanted to do just the opposite…”
Only I’d say “ops-di-dit,” because I couldn’t pronounce the big word rightly.
I think I knew well, however, what it meant. I also suspect someone bought that book because of its lesson about this “very bad habit” not being a very good idea.
I suppose it helped me learn not to say “no.” Which is good. To a point. Like when I stood fierce and firm atop the hall stairs and said it with gusto to Daddy. He’d said to come down those steps, and I’d declared, “NO!” just like that! Then I discovered how fast Daddy could run up stairs, plus what a spanking from him felt like—the only spanking he ever gave me. Evidently I learned well (not to say no), and never needed reinforcement.
But you can learn that too well, can’t you? Did that make it harder for me to refuse manipulative people—or even people asking favors? Books with moral lessons can over-magnify in a child’s tender mind.
This thought fades the luster of my favorite toddlerhood book somewhat. Yet meanwhile, two favorites for my own toddler glow warmer in my heart…
How like a comfortable blanket Good Night, Moon feels! The “great green room” indeed looms large in the (bunny) child’s eyes. The night is dark, and that dollhouse lit up in the dimness could look spooky. But with the sweet old lady whispering “Hush” and the comforting cadence of the text, almost anyone hearing it is ready to drift into peaceful sleep after the final page turns. Such warm, secure love envelopes little bunny-boy, and consequently reader. What a rare, precious thing, in this era of angst and scurry and upheaval!
Because angst and upheaval visited my son and myself even before the book, I’m glad it was the one I read often before tucking him in at that time, instead of one implying dire consequences if you don’t do what you’re told.
My other favorite, by the same author: The Runaway Bunny, speaks even greater grace.
This little bunny wants to run away. But the one who loves him tells him no matter how he schemes escape to lonely freedom by imposture, she will stick close, following him everywhere; he’ll never shed that companionship, even if he tries. So finally he surrenders to persistent love, deciding just to be who he is, and runs into her arms.
This book we acted out—spoke the dialog and pantomimed the actions. At the end, I’d squat, arms outstretched, to catch my “little bunny,” who came running, throwing himself hard into them, “knocking me over” (as I let him), erupting us into rollicking laughter.
How like the great Lover of my soul, and my own surrender to Him! No wonder I wanted my child to conceptualize such persistent love.
Excellent book favorites for any parent and child, especially taken together.
Apology: Since one of last week’s posts contained two new collages, I took the liberty of reusing the one above today. This series is still slated to present 31 original collages by the end, and we still have eight collages in eight days… Just in case you wondered… 🙂
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