What It Means To Share My Favorite Children's Books With My Daughters
On Christmas Eve of last year, my husband got a phone call. It was a social worker, telling us there were two-month-old twin girls in need of a home. Would we take them?
He set down the phone and we looked at each other, nervous and scared and just minutes away from welcoming our families for a holiday feast. Our decision was unanimous. Yes, yes, we would love to take them.
Two hours later, I was a mom.
In writing this, my girls have just celebrated their first birthday and our adoption is set to finalize next month. It's been a year brimming with newness. New smiles, new teeth, new foods, new panics, new joys. But to my surprise, it has also been a year full of old things. Of wonderful, unexpected nostalgia. Particularly when it comes to books.
I hadn't realized how many picture books had captured my heart until I started pulling my old books out of storage or shopping the children's section at our local bookstore. Who knew that so many of my early memories revolved around Dr. Seuss? The Sneetches and Yertle the Turtle and those two idiots who would only go north and south — I was astounded that the irritation I felt for those two characters when I was a kid came back in force when I read their story again, but now it was coupled with the euphoria of adult comprehension. "Oh, it's a lesson, girls!" I said with astonishment, the twins tucked against my sides. "I think this story is about compromise."
This nostalgia isn't just for picture books. Looking forward to the years of parenting ahead of me, many of my greatest anticipations revolve around introducing my daughters to my most beloved childhood books. Little House on the Prairie . The Giver . Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . And of course, more than anything: Harry Potter. (Naturally, I've already chosen their houses — one Gryffindor and one Ravenclaw. I'll be enormously disappointed if they're sorted elsewhere.)
When they're older, of course, I hope they'll love some of the same YA books that have inspired me over the years. Uglies . The Book Thief . Shadow and Bone . Ella Enchanted . Books that have spoken to me on such a deep level, my imagination can't help but revisit those worlds and characters over and over again. I can't wait to take them down from my bookshelf and put them into my girls' hands. To say, "This book meant something to me, and I hope it will mean something to you, too."
And if they end up not loving those books as I do? Well, that's OK, too. We'll try something else. We'll keep looking. They will define their own tastes and explore their own interests. I'm excited to let them loose in a bookstore and see what they pick out for themselves. What they gravitate toward. Because maybe this is the true gift I hope to give them. Not just the stories I've loved, but a general appreciation for books. More than anything, I hope to give them a life-long love of reading.