June 14, 2013

reading on the go

I have a slightly embarrassing admission to make to you. One of my all time favorite book characters is not Emma or Elizabeth Bennet or someone from a serious and seriously depressing Oprah Book Club book. It's not even a character from an adult book. It's Henry Huggins. To be fair, he's probably my second favorite. My favorite favorite is and always will be Anne Shirley. But Henry is close behind her.

I read, and loved, all of the Ramona books growing up. How could I not? Ramona lived, like me, in the Northwest. Her family, like mine, didn't have a lot of money but did have a lot of fun. She didn't like to brush her hair, neither did I. She had a fixation over one of her classmates perfect ringlets, which she longed to tug with a great big boooiing and I had a similar fixation with the perfect blond braids of one of the two Emilys in my grade. It wasn't until I was a teacher that I read the Henry books and it wasn't until I was the mother of a boy that I really got them.

Henry is a boy after my own heart. In part because Henry is very much like the boy who has my heart. Briton is exactly the type of boy who would try to bring a dog home in a box on the bus or end up with hundreds of guppies in mason jars on the floor of his room. I totally identify with all the times his mother says "oh Henry!" in reaction to his antics. We've read and re-read the Henry books. We have them on tape and CD and MP3. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the house we lived in when he was born was one block over from the real Klickitat Street, or maybe it's just that Beverly Cleary is a genius at understanding real kids. But they have held steady for a long time as some of our favorite reads.

At almost 11, Briton has, in a way, outgrown the books. They are far too easy for him to read, really. He wouldn't want to be caught carrying one around in his backpack when everyone else is reading the Warriors series or The Hunger Games. But he's very willing to read them aloud. Because that doesn't quite count as the same thing as reading them.

The one thing I dislike about living here is that there is an enormous amount of driving. Enough driving that, for the first time since we started dating, Will and I have separate cars. Things are just far apart and not at all walkable. So between to-ing and fro-ing to school and the grocery store, which is in the next town over, and the bank and soccer and basketball we spend a lot of time in the car these days. We've tried listening to books on tape, but they don't seem to hold their attention the way they do at night. Instead, Briton has been reading to us in the car. Reading Henry Huggins. It's just the right combination of still-fun for him and young enough for Evie. And I doubt I'll ever grow tired of Henry. We're about halfway through Henry Huggins, with Henry and the Paper Route queued up as our next read-in-the-car book. And it's sparked a whole new renewal of love for Beverly Cleary in general. All her books are stacked together in the book nook, in order (roughly) because Evelyn would like to read them all this summer please and thank you. We're reading Ramona the Brave currently. And just as an FYI, I think Ramona may fall as number three on my best book character list. Clearly I'm hopelessly immature when it comes to book love.