November 24, 2007

Return of Bob

We have an old friend in our house that alternates between being very loved and completely neglected. At times this friend is with us every day to the point we tire of him at other times he is tucked away on a shelf gathering dust wondering where all the love went and hoping that soon another child will discover him.

He is getting old, worn, and torn in some places. He has lost pieces and been replaced numerous times and will be looked back on with fond and unhappy memories by all. He has been in hiding for over a year - almost two now I guess. Today we had to do a major search to locate him - can you tell we love him?

Are you curious yet? Our friend Bob has returned this time into the hands of a very eager Sirah. This is Bob of the Bob books fame. Today we looked for over a half hour to locate the book Mat for Sirah who insists she is ready to start reading. She was very excited and climbed into Serona's lap very proud of her first turn with Bob.

Together they turned the familiar pages once more. This time for Sirah's very first time. As I watched Sirah in Serona's lap I was filled with joy and anticipation at what is to come. The time of teaching a child to read is so precious. It is an ongoing journey as we introduce them to more and more of the literary world. But there is something so very special about teaching them to turn individual letters into sounds and words and watch those ever important light bulbs go off in their cute little heads for the first time.

Just this morning I listened as Ciaran read Frog and Toad and Little Bear to me without assistance. As I listen and help him through the Magic Tree House books and the plethora of non-fiction books Wonder series books from the library he is rapidly devouring I can still remember the first time he climbed on my lap with a Bob book insecure about if he could read it.

Today we help Rhiannon understand a difficult word or concept or struggle to find reading material that is at her level but also appropriate for her reading level and substantial enough to fulfill her voracious appetite for books. We look forward to the days we can introduce her to Tolkein, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Heinlein, and yes even Rowling. But for now we continue to watch her enjoy Bibee, Lovelace, Barrie, Ingalls-Wilder, and really any book she can get her hands on. Still it was only 4 years ago when she first climbed into our laps with a bob book with as much confidence as Sirah that she was in fact ready to read whether we were or not.

It all started in our house with Bob. Bob is out again and will be strewn through our living room, library, family room and bedrooms. He is here to stay for awhile until Sirah is ready to move beyond him. A funny thing happens with Bob. When he comes out suddenly the other kids pick him up again and visit their old friend. Maybe they are remembering how hard he seemed once to understand but mostly they just notice how easy it seems now. They will read to Sirah and with Sirah and maybe in their own way remember their reading journey.

This time when Sirah is done I have no logical reason to keep Bob around with no other youngsters in the house. Still somehow I know we won't be parting with him. Always good to have an old friend around. Maybe some day a niece or newphew or even grandchild will meet Bob and experience their first moment of climbing into a lap with trepidation and confidence all rolled together as they turn the pages for the first time and meet a familiar friend to so many.

Welcome back Bob! Happy to see you again old friend. Thanks for being the same after years on the shelf.

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