A Year of Classics
When I was little, my grandfather used to read my sister and I picture books. We would cuddle up on either side of him, with a stack of books clasped in our arms and he would dutifully go through the entire stack, one book after another, giving all the characters their own voices and teaching us to read at the same time. One of the funniest parts of his reading was when he would be slowing going through yet another book (that we’d read at least 80 times before), pausing on the pages… and he would drop the book! He’d instantly pick it back up, and we thought he was being funny, but he actually was falling asleep from boredom!
Now, as a mother of two young children, I understand the exact feeling! We have a plethora of picture books, and as my boys brought me book after book, I tried hard to maintain the same enthusiasm that my grandfather had, as we read the same stories over and over again (I don’t think I did as good a job as he did in this department!). But things are finally changing.
I came across an article on Pinterest that listed out 100 of the best children’s chapter books. As I peered through the list, trying to decide if my children would be old enough to enjoy them and to see how many I had read myself, I thought it was as good a time as any to start with chapter books. Instead of picture books at bedtime, I figured we’d read a chapter a night. That would give us an entire year to go through some of these great chapter books and make some real headway. I wondered if they’d be bored. I wondered if I’d be bored. The answer to all those questions was a resounding no!
It’s been great fun moving on from Dr. Suess to fully developed stories (with no offence to Dr. Suess!) I downloaded A Wrinkle in Time onto my Kindle as our first story. It’s a book that I had never read as a child, so the story is as new to me as it is for them. It’s great fun to overhear them brainstorming as to what a “tesseract” might be, and describing what they think Meg and Charles Wallace and Mrs. Whatsit look like. And when they ask me, “what’s a tesseract?” I can honestly answer them, saying “I have no idea! We’ll have to keep reading to find out!
Reading is one of those things that we all know we should do. It seems to be on the top of a ton of new year’s resolutions: read more books. It’s one of those things that are started with great intentions, but once you’re out of school and have the everyday responsibilities that come with work and motherhood and keeping up with the housework, that the leisure time that’s leftover needs to be carefully budgeted, time-wise.
I’ve often lamented that I couldn’t read and crochet at the same time. I’ve wanted to read some adult classics for years. I have lists saved in my bookmarks of “100 Best Classic Novels of All Time!” and “Books Every Person Should Read!” but it’s taken me until now to actually do something about it. But now, inspired by my children’s enthusiasm, I’ve decided to combine my crochet time with reading the classics. Only, I’m cheating, just a little! I’ve gotten into the habit of turning on Netflix, or a podcast, or a TED talk when I start my crochet and watching all sorts of different shows. But lately, I’ve turned Netflix off and started to download or stream audiobooks.
What a wonderful idea this has turned out to be! I’m excited to revisit the novels of my school years and understand them again through an adult’s eyes. I’m looking forward to reading the ones that I’ve heard about for years but never actually read. And I’m thrilled that I can be productive and multi-task, accomplishing two things at once. This works best when I’m doing boring and repetitive crochet, like working on a repeated square for an afghan or weaving in ends, rather than learning a new pattern, but it’s a great feeling nonetheless.
Right now, I’m about a third of the way through with The Grapes of Wrath. It’s a new one to me, but after just finished watching The Dust Bowl on Netflix, I was inspired to see what had inspired the author (oh, these lines of inspiration, from one person to the next are fascinating!) I have some old ones on my list, like To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Catcher in the Rye, which will both be interesting reads now that I am an adult and my perspective has evolved since I last read these as a teenager. And there are some new ones as well (new to me, that is), like The Great Gatsby and The Divine Comedy. There are books that I’ve only seen the films of, and am excited to now hear the full story, like Wuthering Heights and Gone With the Wind.
My home is now filled with literature, between my audiobooks, and the chapter books the children are musing over. I even have plans to start downloading some children’s audiobooks to play for my boys while they’re busy drawing or building. The wonder in my boys’ eyes as I watch them imagine characters and settings is deeply moving to me, and my own haste to get back to my novel is just thrilling. This will truly be our first year of classics.
In order to share with you, I’ve added “Currently Reading” over in the sidebar there —> and I’ll keep it updated with what the kids and I are in the process of reading. I’m also including a link to our library on the top menu. There I’ll link to all the books that we love and recommend, from classics to crochet books, to cookbooks.
Any suggestions of titles to add to our lists – either mine or the kids? I’d love to hear them!
~ Mellie ★