Tuesday, February 25, 2014 • 7:00 AM Post a Comment

Two Books

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

We are back, as of midnight.

I do not want to wear a coat (hashtag, First World Problems). We should see snow later, so I will wear a coat. Grumpy about the return, I won’t say much more on that subject.

Of my three to share, two fall under the category of vacation reading.

As in, I read our first “real” chapter book aloud. I chose Dick King-Smith’s Lady Lollipop for Saskia, a book I’ve read to each kid (I think) and still isn’t old at all (put a British inflection to at all, please). I am a firm believer in picture books as long as you can. Rather than rush to the more complicated chapter books because you love them, I opt to go slowly. There’s time. It’s really nice to meet a just turned six year-old exactly at her level. It’s meant I’ve discovered books I hadn’t read as a child.

By the way, the thing that totally turned me in this direction was my first read aloud of Harriet the Spy (a book that reaches its fiftieth anniversary this year), and the realization that as a child I really hadn’t grasped so much about race and class (that might be a “the times” thing, too). My third grader certainly didn’t grasp the book’s complexity when I read it to him.

And one way to slow things down is to embrace the magic that is Dick King-Smith. Lady Lollipop is such a charming, easygoing book. It also serves to remind parents that to behave nicely and kindly feels better to children than the alternative.

On an entirely different note (but kindness is the thread), I read Nell Lake’s absolutely wonderful book, The Caregivers this week away from home. I can’t say it counted as mindless beach reading, yet it was a gripping (teary) read that is certain to crash against the walls of my mind like waves, again and again. The book follows a support group for long term caregivers run at a local hospital (ours, actually). As a reader, you are let in close enough to a few families’ experiences that they feel “yours.” The book gave me a great deal to chew on, and was humbling and sad and surprisingly hopeful all at once. I would have to say anyone in the situation of caregiving—or approaching it (I think that’s all of us) will find this a worthwhile read, as it sets some context both emotionally, practically and sociologically. I am grateful for the window Nell—and her subjects—provided us readers.

Third to share is so trivial in comparison, yet we just had a moment of being reminded on vacation that sometimes the most simple thing is still brilliant: the bag clip (not pictured). There were some in the house. Things from bags (in a humid climate) remained fresh. We were pleased, crunchily so.

Three for the day: grateful for family in its wildly complex simplicity and simple complexity and everything in between, grateful for the milestones not on the books like the small girl able to brush her hair and buckle her seatbelt in cars and airplanes, and obviously, obviously, grateful for that sea. The air and the sand, the wind and the sound of the waves have done me good.

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