Archive for March 14th, 2011

Why Rillabooks?

March 14, 2011 @ 3:23 pm | Filed under: ,

A reader was curious: Why just “Rillabooks“? Don’t you read picture books to your little boys, too?

Yup, loads of them. But my three youngest children are experiencing books differently from each other, right now. Huck is, well, a two-year-old. He loves books, loves especially to point out 1) trucks, 2) cars, 3) tow trucks that awesomely pull cars, and 4) trucks and cars actually existing in close proximity to one another on those supercalifragilistic miracles of creation called roads, upon which, if one is extremely lucky, one might also find a bus.

So while he’ll clamber up beside me when I’m reading to Rilla and listening to a few pages, mostly he’s at the talk-about-pictures stage, not the listen-to-a-story stage. All in good time.

As for my sweet Wonderboy, he too comes at a story from a different angle. He’ll listen happily to a read-aloud, but he isn’t really into nuances. He likes good, solid, concrete facts. That’s a boat. That’s a girl. That’s a baby. The girl and the baby are getting in the boat. They’re catching a fish. They’re eating fish soup. Whoa, that was a really great story! Layers, rich language, subtleties, tensions (of which the book I’m referring to has many examples)—these are not what Wonderboy is looking for in a story right now. And that’s fine. What he IS looking for are words he recognizes (very exciting) and special time with mom (delightful), and if you want to throw in some monkeys wearing hats, so much the better.

Rilla, at five-next-month, is relishing the whole package. Plot, characters, setting, language, emotions, sensory details, suspense, conflict, humor, flights of fancy—these are the things she’s reacting to when she listens to (and looks at; the poring-over is such an important part of the experience) a picture book. Often she’ll request the same book two, three, four times in a row, honing in on different aspects each time. Sometimes it’s about the reading—she wants to be the one to read the names, or the repeated phrases, or the punchlines, or a certain character’s dialogue. Sometimes it’s about the art: finger on the page, Look, Mommy, there’s a tiny mouse under the bed. Sometimes it’s about the deep mysteries of Life, the Universe, and Everything: Why did Fats Watson do that? Why is he jealous? Why did Christina Katerina’s mom keep wanting to get rid of that clearly fabulous box?

Sometimes, frankly, it’s all about fashion. Look at what Lilly is wearing on THIS page! I wish I had a dress like that. Can I have a dress like that? And those boots! And a purse.

Her tastes are wide-ranging these days; she’s wanting to go both broad and deep. As in: she’s happiest if we have beside us a stack of half a dozen books, some new to her, some of them books she’s heard a zillion times before. Her huge appetite makes for a lively and varied reading list, which, let’s face it, is a lot easier to blog about than Caps for Sale Fifty-Seven Days in a Row.

So that’s why I’ve been focusing on the Rillabooks. And I have to say I’ve been loving the way these posts have encouraged me to take advantage of our picture-book collection. I really learned a lesson from the egregious Miss Rumphius oversight. It’s been a joy to rediscover some of these gems and to watch Rilla—and her brothers, too, though their reasons are different—fall in love with them for the first time.

Goats are nice, but where are the trucks?