I got an email the other day from NYfriend asking me, “So, what’cha reading?” This is probably my favorite question, so I’m going to expand on my answer to her here. Here’s what we’re reading now. (Widget is 2.5.)
Toddler Picks: A Fly Went By. Hand, Hand, Finger, Thumb. Little People’s Cars, Trucks, Trains, and Planes. We read these probably every day. Two books in the Dr. Seuss science series, There’s No Place Like Space and Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaur? Some complicated book about a hat. But his favorites are the old classics that we read on the couch downstairs, from a big heavy compilation: Crictor. George. Corderoy. Harold and the Purple Crayon. We read Madeline the other day for the first time, and he loved the meter and rhyme. Also, Ferdinand the Bull, although I admit I edited it somewhat, as I’m not really ready to teach him about bullfighting. I know, I know; I’m such a prude!
We recently picked up Goodnight Moon again, to read to Little Bear, and Widget was able to “read” all the nouns himself. When I turned each page, I’d say, “Goodnight ____” and he would chime in “socks” or “kittens” or “bears on chairs.” A big deal for a late talker like him! He also finishes each rhymed line of A Fly Went By, and that’s big for us.
Toddler Pans: Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddleduck, Elmo box set, and Theo LeSeig’s I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. All of these introduce concepts that are just too harsh for a 2 year old. Why borrow trouble?
In the Mail: I just placed an order for Virginia Lee Burton’s classic, Choo Choo, which I’ve heard good things about, and a collection of 4 other books of hers, including Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel (one of my favorites from childhood), The Little House, and The Trolley. We love her Katy and the Big Snow, so hopefully these will be good too. And Widget is so into trucks and trains (and scoops and dozers) that surely Mike Mulligan will be a hit! I also ordered Tikki Tikki Tembo, that old tongue-twisting favorite! I hope he likes it as much as I did as a kid.
Mom’s Reading: Nursing a newborn for hours on end has given me some time to catch up on my reading, as he dozes in and out and Dad watches Widget downstairs. I just finished a bestseller (which I really don’t read enough of), While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller. Really spectacular writing, and a good (if somewhat sad and not very complex) story.
But the big winner here is The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Any review I could write here would surely not do it justice, but I feel compelled to try, lack of sleep and all. This book is an amazing “what-if” tale, set as a first person account of a woman who lived through a revolution that took away women’s rights in the name of making it a kinder, more gentle, less complex society. In this post-apocolyptic society, many women cannot have children, or bear Unchildren due to bomb fallout and increasing presence of chemicals. The government takes action to increase the birthrate, declaring all second marriages and relationships invalid, and puts the women in reeducation programs to then serve as old-fashioned handmaids to men of power, guaranteeing them progeny. The book opens after all this has occurred, and the heroine, known only by a patronymic, goes about her daily routines as she offers us glimpses into this new society. She takes small comfort in the frequent reminders that the new world is only difficult for her because she remembers freedom. She remembers love, and family, and her little daughter who was taken from her and given to a wealthy couple who could not have children. She is not encouraged by the fact that future generations will not experience such frustration … because it is all they have ever known. Stunningly written by a Booker Prize Winner, this is a simple tale that covers some really complex ground and offers something for the casual reader, feminist, or even sci-fi fan. I’m giving it to my husband to read next, and I’m hoping he enjoys it too. The book is a good story, and a great example of what sci-fi fans call world-building. Kind of Sherri Tepper-esque, if you’ve read her, but really aimed at a much broader popular reading audience.
So … what’cha reading?