Reading To Kids and To Yourself
December 15, 2010
As a parent, you can never be too careful what you read, especially to your children. You read them a charming little picture book thinking that your child might find the book funny or memorable, and then before you quite realize it's happening, the book is speaking to your very own soul.
It happened to me like this. My daughter went on her first ever field trip to a stage production of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and she loved it. Naturally, being a librarian, I checked out the book for us to read together. I vaguely remembered it from my childhood, but the truth is, I didn't get interested in reading until I was past picture book age.
So, I'm reading to my daughter about elementary school-aged Alexander's day, a day that would make even Charlie Brown give up and go home. Throughout the day, Alexander threatens to move to Australia. Who hasn't? Finally, on the next-to-last page, Alexander's mom tells him that "some days are like that. Even in Australia."
That's when I stopped reading, and simply stared at the page. You see, I threaten to move to New Zealand. When life gets rough and Missouri, taxes seem too high, and I get the familiar itching to get up and go, I think of New Zealand. Kiwis (New Zealand citizens) have decent healthcare, public transportation, and schools are good. The country itself is beautiful, the two islands stretching from gorgeous beaches to a glacier field. In New Zealand, Christmas arrives at the height of summer. And, I would love to learn about the Maori culture firsthand.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day subtly illustrates how to handle the inevitable aggravations of life. The trick is not knowing where to run away to, but rather knowing how to persevere past the awful days to the good ones that will follow. This book reminded me, an adult, that running away isn't the answer. Bad days can happen anywhere, Alexander's mom would say. Even in New Zealand.