My son, Owen, is 15, and it’s been a long time since he’s let me read to him. We still talk about books, but I miss the days of finding ourselves transported into a fictional universe together. Rediscovering children’s literature has been one of the happiest side effects of parenthood for me, and many of my best memories of Owen over the years involve books.
Beginning when Owen was a baby, long before he could sit up or even support his own head, I had a stack of picture books I’d read to him every night, including I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert; Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk; and My Dad by Anthony Browne. One night, I started reading, and when I finished the first book, I put it next to Owen on the bed and started the next, and the next, putting each one on top of the pile as I finished reading. Then Owen, who was about 6 months old, leaned over and pushed the books aside one by one until he reached My Dad. And then he stopped. He was telling me what he wanted to read! It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
A few years ago, he told me he didn’t like being read to anymore. Unwilling to let go, I asked if we could try one more book, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, which I’d always meant to read and thought he would like, too. He said yes, but our hearts weren’t in it. That book is still floating around our house with a bookmark stuck in the middle, a fitting reminder of our happy days of reading out loud. Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.