This past Thursday, December 2, 2021, Sloan hit an impressive milestone. We read a book called “Oh No, Mr. Snowman.” It was a slightly bizarre Frosty-esque story about a snowman who would come to life and bust into the house of the kids who made him. When he would do this, objects within the house would freeze. The children eventually would tell the snowman not to come back anymore. A couple days later, just as the Christmas Eve celebration was about to take place, all the holiday food inside the house started to melt. Despite his prior ejection, the snowman knocks on the front door to save the day and the children enthusiastically allow him inside to salvage the food with his freezing cold presence.
What’s the big deal, right? Just another silly children’s book. Well, there was something else at play when we finished that weird snowman’s tale. It marked the 400th book that Sloan read in 2021.
We have always read to our kids. My parents read to me every night when I was a child and I wanted to make sure to do the same with Sloan and Beau. However, our personal reading program accelerated earlier this year when something finally happened.
At the beginning of March, our libraries in Spokane opened again. No longer did we have to submit a limited online book order to pick up curbside from a librarian. Rather, we could finally roam the physical library and pull all the books off the shelves that we wanted.
You know how you don’t realize how much you miss something until it is gone? Not being able to visit the library during the pandemic hit us hard. So, when the doors finally opened we didn’t take it for granted. Whether we were visiting the Spokane Valley County Library near our house or the North Spokane County Library near my parents’ home, we were throwing books into our oversized tote bag like our lives depended on it. Each visit we would check out at least 20 titles and would be so motivated to get back to the library again that we would read through them all in less than two weeks.
That’s not to say we were breezing through the books at warp speed without comprehension. It just meant that we were reading multiple books every night. After we finished a story we would log the title in the notes app on my iPhone and Sloan would add a few emojis after it to further describe what the book was about. The structure did wonders for our nighttime routine.
With that said, Sloan is a 4-year-old and would have 4-year old moments during our “books and prayers” evening period. If her attention span seemed to be running low, we would remind her that if she couldn’t concentrate on the books it wouldn’t be possible for her to concentrate on the iPad during the coveted screen time we allow her. That would usually bring her focus back (it’s all about balance).
When you read 400 children’s books, you learn a lot. Sloan has been introduced to themes such as love, death, family, honesty, self care, friendship, hard work, preparation, sharing, diversity, and much more. She has been exposed to different cultures, holidays, family structures, and ways of thinking. She has picked up on different techniques of writing and admired different styles of art through some of the magnificently illustrated books we have read.
Sidney and I have learned a lot too. Although the books are written at a children’s level, many of them have underlying themes that speak to adults. We will be reading to Sloan and trade glances when a line is read that went over our daughter’s head but made all too much sense to us.
Besides Sloan just snuggling up to me when I read to her, the best part about our 400-book odyssey has simply been talking to her when reading the books. I will ask her questions, challenge her to give predictions, and encourage her to describe the feelings of characters. Watching her mind work is so interesting and rewarding.
Once 2022 hits, we will continue to read like maniacs. I have no doubt in my mind that we will continue to be #1 customers of the library and that we will surpass our 2021 book total. Perhaps it won’t be long until Sloan is reading to Beau. Don’t Blink.
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