Monday, May 14, 2012

A Mother's Day Tribute (a day late because yesterday my family monopolized the computer)

I have a picture in my mind of my mom sitting in our Indiana living room in her sleek, beige country-upholstered wingback chair, feet outstretched, sipping hot chocolate and reading a book. (Just kidding about “sleek.”) One of the things I appreciate most about my mom is that she helped me become a reader through example and encouragement. My mom, who zips through books and has an impressive basement library, introduced my siblings and I to M. M. Kaye, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Madeleine Brent, and more contemporary authors James Rollins, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, etc. I love the books she recommends.

Something that I have realized as a mother is that whenever I needed anything, my mom’s book would go straight to her lap. She never made me feel like I was a bother or an interruption. I can appreciate that now; when I’m engrossed in a book/show/movie/the computer it’s a struggle to turn my undivided attention to my kids.

I have vivid memories of summer outings to the public library, my mom hushing five unruly kids as we trampled through to the kids’ section while the librarian raised her eyebrows and asked, “Are all these yours?” (This was Indiana, where most families had 2-3 kids and 5 was a bit weird.) The public library also provided a Bookmobile, a big rectangular library on wheels that made its rounds through our neighborhood. I remember climbing the massive steps to enter into this cool “room” lined with bookshelves; it looked so big to me but it probably was rather cramped. I’m glad we were encouraged to read away our sticky Indiana summers.

My daughter fell in love with books last summer when she ate up the Harry Potter series. (Don’t we all want to give J. K. Rowling a hug?) My Abby loves fantasy—Brandon Mull, Rick Riordan, Shannon Hale, Tyler Whitesides, Erin Hunter—and we often read and discuss the same books, which delights me. Her success as a reader all started with “the boy who lived.” My youngest, Drew, became obsessed with the Magic Tree House series while he was in Kindergarten. He couldn’t read them fast enough. His favorite series earlier this year was Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. (Soo witty, those books are fun.) Now he's taking his turn with Harry Potter, and he feels very grown up reading such thick books.  

What did you read as a kid? I loved Little House on the Prairie, Beverly Cleary, Nancy Drew (my mom’s ancient copies that she shared with me), and those Choose Your Own Adventure books. As a teen I devoured such classics as Sweet Valley High. It’s funny—a year or two ago I decided to revisit Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. I adored the SVH series as a preteen, but rereading a couple chapters, I was surprised at how elementary it was. Back then, it seemed sophisticated and a bit scandalous. I guess that’s part of growin’ up.

These days, my mom presents her grandkids with a new book for each birthday. Over the years, that gesture has helped build up our family's library. Thanks, Mom, for loving your family and sharing with us your love of reading.

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