From time to time, I am asked if I miss teaching now that I am home with the girls. My immediate and gut reaction is always the same. I miss teaching good stories to students and the universal divide a good story can cross.
So it probably comes as no surprise, I love to read the older two girls chapter books. We started with Charlotte’s Web when Ella had just turned 4. Ella was really the only one old enough to understand this one. Then, we moved on to Stuart Little. Sophie wanted to sit with us through this story. For my girls, Stuart Little didn’t carry the same punch as Charlotte and her barn yarn friend. They liked sitting with me, but the story didn’t capture their attention. I worked to try to make the story come alive, but I knew they just weren’t super duper interested. That was ok. I picked up the Laura Ingalls Wilder books once or twice before from the library, but they timing never seemed right to begin them with the girls. I am so glad I decided to wait. A few weeks ago we were at the library, and I saw the library had just purchased a complete set of the Little House books with the full color illustrations by Garth Williams. We brought the first one home as well as a couple of the picture books from the My First Little House series. I read those couple picture books to the girls first and we talked about how they were sisters who lived and played together. We talked about living a long time ago. Living far, far, far away from neighbors. Not being able to go to a grocery store when you ran out of something. In the picture book, Laura got a new doll for Christmas. Well, that right there, hooked Sophie. All she really wanted for Christmas was a new baby doll. Slowly we worked our way through the book. They loved the pictures. I would find them looking through the pages to try and understand what was coming next. I found them talking about Mary and Laura when I would get them out of bed in the morning. Those sisters loved a good story about sisters.
To be honest, I thought Sophie was just listening to my voice and enjoying snuggling with Ella and I. I couldn’t believe how much I was mistaken. As we were nearing the end of the book, she told me her favorite part was being like Laura and getting a new baby doll for Christmas. Ella began describing how Ma had to knit their socks and sew their underwear because there was no store to buy those things. She started wondering about how Laura kept food cold. We had a talk about not having electricity and preserving food in different ways. They devised a plan of how they might be able to make the maple candy if we got enough snow. And, now they know maple syrup comes from trees and not the grocery store.
I know some of the themes and plot events are beyond them still. But, I am positive they are getting some skills that are so much more valuable. They are liking listening to the story unfold. They are trying to use clues from the text to put together plot events. They are stopping to ask questions. They are using the pictures to help them understand what confuses them about the words.
I placed a hold on Little House on the Prairie, and we began that book over the weekend. They were so worried about what happened to Jack, the bulldog, as the wagon was crossing the river. I never read this book as a little girl and I think I may be as excited as they are to see where the Ingalls family settles and sets up home on the prairie.
I am so happy to snuggle with these girls of mine and read stories. Good stories are pretty amazing, aren’t they?