Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A Story Interrupted
Tonight Avery chose Corduroy. I'm never quite sure what to expect when Little Miss Avery Kate snuggles close for a bedtime story. Tonight, however, she made her intentions quite clear. I opened the book, read the title and author and began:
"Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the toy department of a big store . . . ."
Cue Avery. "Mommy? Can you make voices?" she wonders.
"Yes, honey, I can make voices." I continue:
"Day after day he waited -- " I am interrupted.
"The same voices you usually make," she clarifies.
"Okay, the same voices," I assure.
"Day after day he waited -- "
"The bear voice for the bear," she explains. "And the people voices for the people."
We finally get things clarified (somewhat) and she listens to a complete sentence or two. Then the questions fire at a rapid rate. "Is it really a palace? Where is his button? Why did he put him on the shelf like that? Is that his button? Can you do silly voices? The same silly voices. The same silly voices for the bear and the same silly voices for the people . . . ."
Her steady flow of dialogue makes me smile as I think about our upcoming school year. I've ordered Five in a Row for Avery's kindergarten curriculum, a literature based program that involves reading the same picture book for five days in a row. From each book springs a variety of simple teaching opportunities in areas such as science, geography, art and social studies. As I recently read the text's introduction, it suggested that through using this approach I'll "discover [my child] asking more questions than ever before."
This promise causes me to stop in my tracks and breathe deeply. I know it's true. Avery's heard Corduroy a dozen times, yet she comes up with new questions with every retelling. Am I ready for even more questions? (And perhaps even more importantly, just how many silly voices will I be required to make this year? My repertoire is limited.)
But I know -- and honestly love the fact -- that those steady questions provide a unique glimpse into my child's world. When Avery asks, she's giving me an opportunity to teach (and listen!). And this is how she learns. She's interacting with the text, applying concepts to her own life and attempting to make sense of it all. She's learning to approach literature in a logical manner, glean truths that mirror the values we teach at home, and one day offer critiques on the countless materials that will fly her way as she grows into a young woman.
I'm sure I'll answer thousands of questions this year. And I'm sure I'll be called upon to make dozens of silly voices. I'm also aware that it will probably take me thirty minutes to make it through a ten minute story, just like it did tonight. But as I sit down for another dramatic retelling of Corduroy or Make Way for Ducklings or Peter Rabbit, I pray that I'll embrace each "Once upon a time" that comes our way. For a woman-in-the-making awaits breathless -- if not speechless -- at my side.