We read to our boys at night before bedtime. Alex mostly tolerates it but Nathan has started to show more of an interest in books and stories. I decided it might be time to start sharing chapter books with him.
I have fond memories of my father reading us chapter books in installments. The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, etc. But the one I remember best is The Hobbit. My sisters and I got so scared about Bilbo sneaking into Smaug’s lair that we hid the book so nothing bad could happen to him. (Twisted logic, if you don’t read it, it didn’t happen.) He was very good at coming up with different voices for the characters. I was actually worried when the Lord of the Rings movies came out because my dad had created a really creepy whispering voice for Gollum and I was worried the actor’s interpretation wouldn’t live up to my memories.
I would like for my boys to have similar memories. Alex might not have the patience or listening skills for chapter books yet, but Nathan is getting there. So the other night I began Charlotte’s Web.
It did not go well. Nathan was furious at not getting to choose his story for the night and doubly furious that it was a chapter book. He sat in the corner and screamed through me reading the first chapter. I persevered but inside I was thinking that this experiment was going to be a failure. I finished the chapter and put the book aside and Nathan was still throwing a tantrum. He refused to leave his corner and come to bed to have his bedtime song.
I started talking. I told him that I could see he was very frustrated. That I could tell he wanted to read a different book. I told him that when I was little, my daddy used to read chapter books to me. I said that sometimes I wanted to read different books, too, and we came up with a compromise. We would read one chapter and then, the next night, we would read a story book. As I talked, Nathan got interested in what I was saying. I asked him if he wanted the same deal and he said yes.
Then he surprised me. He got up and came to sit in my lap and asked me to read the chapter again because he didn’t hear it the first time. It was getting late but I decided to oblige him in order to encourage this newfound cooperation.
The next night, he surprised me again. He asked to read the next chapter.
Hopefully this is the first of many books we will share.