We've read to Espen all of his three year life. When he was a baby it was board books and cloth books with simple words and phrases, and then at some point we started reading picture books with longer stories, and I assumed that is where we would stay for a few more years. Then one bedtime, almost by accident, Espen picked up a copy of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle from a box we had been unpacking, and we have been reading chapter books and novels to him ever since.
I loved the picture books, I really did. Children's picture books and capable of capturing profound ideas simply and eloquently enough for children to understand, and sometimes they do that in a way that is both beautiful and breathtaking. Some picture books make me cry (The Giving Tree! Or Song of the Stars) and some have made us laugh and giggle together. But now that Espen has the attention span and interest to listen to a story without pictures to keep him focused, I can't help but feel like this is it! There is such a wonderfully fantastic world of books and stories and ideas out there, and now we can start exploring them together. I have especially loved sharing some of my favorites from my own childhood with him.
The next book he picked up after Mrs Piggle-Wiggle was The Little Prince, which I thought was going to be much too hard for him to be interested in. But he listened quietly, night after night until the book was finished. After that I chose Kipling's Just So Stories, which he also listened to and loved. I have such good memories of being allowed to snuggle down beside my big brother and giggling and giggling over the sailor inside the whale and how he "stumped and he jumped and he thumped and he bumped, and he pranced and he danced, and he banged and he clanged, and he hit and he bit, and he leaped and he creeped, and he prowled and he howled, and he hopped and he dropped, and he cried and he sighed, and he crawled and he bawled, and he stepped and he lepped, and he danced hornpipes where he shouldn't, and the Whale felt most unhappy indeed." It makes me so happy to be able to share that with Espen.
After the Just So Stories, we've just moved onto the Chronicles of Narnia, starting with The Magician's Nephew. We got off to a slightly rough start on the first night when he woke up at midnight and was worried about where Polly had vanished to and how Digory was going to get her back. But since then he has been completely riveted and can in fact be bribed into bed with promises of being read to, which is hard to beat.
Oh, except I can beat it! When we read to him, he falls asleep. Priceless.
How about you? Do your kids like to be read to? Do you have any favorite bedtime stories?