Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dare Double Dare You Can't Catch Me, I'll Beat You to the Top of the Coconut Tree

I've moved to Moscow Idaho and grad school has started but I still don't have internet in my apartment. But it's time to stop postponing writing blogs about what I read this summer. And it wouldn't have been good of me if I went a whole summer reading children's books to children and didn't talk about those books in my quote unquote book blog.

I was reading books to three-year-olds and younger. Maybe to properly "get" a book you have to read it over and over to its intended audience. Take for instance the 1989 classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I don't remember liking it as a kid. It's on the List of 100 Children's Books You Should Read, so I read it last year. Was unimpressed. Read it again this summer to my kids. Unimpressed, and thought the words didn't completely match up with the illustrations. But my kids loved it. My favorite three-year-old had me read it to him every day, sometimes multiple times a day. One day we went on a "field trip" (walked to a nearby building) and he found a Bible and asked me to read it to him. So I opened it up and said, "A told B and B told C, I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree... Chicka chicka boom boom, will there be enough room?" I had the book memorized, and I wouldn't be surprised if my little buddy did too.

So reading this book over and over must have made me go a little crazy, right? Wrong. The more I read it the more I liked it. We could dance to that rhythm, I thought to myself. Maybe having a three-year-old in your lap generally makes books more enjoyable. There were other books, too, that I thought were boring when I first read them but by the 25th time I was digging it. Sometimes I would say the words wrong to see if my little buddy would catch it, a game, and of course he protested and told me to do it right. I think repetition, especially of words with rhythm and rhyme, is a basic human pleasure. Just taking joy in the sounds. Something we forget about now we have unlimited access to movies and books and music, now that reading aloud is something you only do if you have a child. Now that poetry is something found on the page rather than in the ear.

Other books to mention: I loved Goodnight Moon as a kid and still do, though I didn't read it nearly as many times as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It's so calming and comforting. I also discovered the book Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVED Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as a kid. And HATED Goodnight Moon. Incidentally.