Thursday, February 23, 2012

Put The Book Down And Nobody Gets Hurt

We're in a little bit of a quandary.  A pickle, if you will.

"Read to your kids," they tell you.  "Provide plenty of books for your kids."  "Encourage your children to read themselves."

Read.  Read.  READ.

All of this is good.  I, too, love to read.  I want my children to be lovers of books.  Bibliophiles, if you will.

So here's my question:  How do you say, "Stop reading!"  but keep from discouraging them from... well, reading?

It's the whole too much of a good thing- thing.

See, Adelaide loves to read.  And we are delighted by this.  I love to watch her drinking in the words that I read in my youth, and I love that she is helping me discover new and talented children's authors.  It's fun.

Her reading has also started to become a problem, however.

It's hard for me teach in her class at church on Sundays, and watch her head straight for the corner to read a book alone while all the other kids socialize and play together.  Do I encourage her to try and interact with the other kids, or let her do what comes naturally and just read her heart out?  I know she's shy, and I don't want her to use books as a cloak or a crutch.  I don't want her to hide in the world of books and miss out what's happening around her.

She also often reads while riding the bus on the way home from school.  This, I'm okay with.  I don't blame her for wanting to tune out that frantic after-school atmosphere, and I know of at least three other kids that she reads her books to on a regular basis while they're heading home.

So she reads while sitting on the bus seat, sometimes to herself, sometimes to those sitting around her.  When she reaches her stop, she stands up, still reading, walks down the aisle, still reading, and walks down the steps, off the bus.  Still reading.

Do you remember those bus steps?  Have you taken a look at them recently?  They're tall.  Probably twice as steep as normal steps.  And for a 5-year-old?  That's a big drop-off.

It's terrifying, watching her stumble down those steps, nose buried in a book.  I'd thought about getting a photo of her doing it, but I'm too busy yelling, "Adelaide!  ADELAIDE!  PUT THE BOOK DOWN!"

My hollers are echoed by the bus driver behind her, imploring her to JUST PUT IT DOWN.  We sound like we're on the kiddie version of Law and Order: Huxley or something.

On many of the days when she's not endangering her life, she's crying because she's already fallen at some point.

I can handle saying, "No books at the table," and "Adelaide, for the love of all that is good in this world, put the book down and brush your teeth already!" over and over and over.

I never really considered that books could end up scarring our daughter-both literally and figuratively.

Hopefully, I'm just overreacting.  Now if you'll excuse me, it's almost time to go get Adelaide from the bus stop.  I like to get there early, waiting at the steps when the bus rolls to a stop and the doors open, in case I have to catch her as she falls down the steps.


1 comment:

  1. I like Adelaide! :)
    This reminds me of Belle and the way she walked around with her nose in a book all the time. And Richard Scary's "Watch Your Step Mr. Rabbit".

    And, oh, I KNOW there is another book with great illustrations of a girl (can't remember if it's a little girl or an adult, maybe a librarian) who reads all the time as she walks around the town.


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