In typical English-teacher fashion, I began reading to Kazuo before he had emerged. I gathered up a small personal library of suitable starter books for him before he arrived, and made regular trips to the local public library for supplementary reading. In the early months, I read out loud to him any time I was reading anything so that he could get used to the cadence of my voice when reading as opposed to speaking. I also made a point of reading whole books to him every day from birth. Akira and I both love to read, but reading to Kazuo has also become my little obsession (although it is fast becoming fun for all the family). I am keen for him to make a head start on something that I know can be a challenge for some little boys. So hopefully he will grow up to love books and literature as much as we do…
At the moment Kazuo has an infant’s interest in turning pages, looking for big smiling faces and listening to interesting rhythms. I am grateful for the peace of our little story times. In the midst of a tiring and sometimes frustrating day of moving about, it is gratifying that sitting with a book usually means a brief oasis of tranquility.
In addition to the books I sourced for Kazuo, he has also been lucky enough to receive some great books as gifts. In particular, my friend Bronwyn, seems to visit the bookshop on our behalf every few weeks and has augmented the bookshelf with some fantastic offerings from Aotearoa. Of course there are books from the essential and very wonderful Margaret Mahy and Lynley Dodd, but we have also really been enjoying Barnaby Bennett written by our friend Hannah Rainforth at Huia. Other firm favourites of the bookshelf right now include several books by Eric Carle, the inevitable Where’s Spot and Maisy books, and another Ali Teo-illustrated treasure from New Zealand called Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!
I’ve been saving some birth-money for Kazuo just for book buying and today seemed like a book buying sorta day. We were heading to the Loop for lunch and a look around for some Christmas present ideas. I was lamenting the lack of a bookshop with children’s books on the Loop… and then we stumbled upon a marvelous but small children’s section at Subterranean Books. Yayy! I had been hoping to find something special to use the money from Akira’s Aunt and Uncle in Dublin – and this fit the bill perfectly – something long-lasting, but of immediate appeal.
The illustrations are fabulous, and on each page is an array of little and large items beginning with the letter… then a secret item that also appears in the next illustration. Quite the treasure hunt – hours of delight ahead I think! What’s more, it is a board book, so can withstand lots of love.
I have a permanent stack of board books on the coffee table and Kazuo spends happy hours examining them, distributing them to the floor, then picking them up and rifling through them in a ‘reading’ sort of way – encourages plenty of opportunities to pause in the midst of important standing practise for a little real reading. Happiness today for books!