Book Review: Chapter Book with the Bean

Over the weekend, Alvie Bean declared that he was a big boy and wanted to have his fancy bed flipped over so he could sleep on the top bunk. One of the things we did after flipping the bed is move all the books from the shelf above his bed and fill the shelf with his books. (For the time being, he doesn’t need access to the manga and beer books that had previously filled those shelves.)

I swear the book next to “The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex” is “The Art of the Cocktail.”

After we filled the shelves with Bean’s books – both the ones we read regularly and the ones that have been waiting for him to be old enough/responsible enough, etc. – he started asking questions about some of the books he’d not seen before.

And that’s how, when Sunday night bedtime story came around, we ended up reading “The Little House in the Big Woods.”

I have such fond memories of this series. I devoured it in 2nd & 3rd grade. I was pretty sure that our reading of this book (“It’s a chapter book, Mothah.” [He has taken to calling me “Mother” with a wildly affected accent…]) would be over almost before I got anywhere. There’s a lot of words and not very many pictures.

(I was also a little worried about what I was going to have to censor while reading. I don’t mind reading about butchering and killing bears and using a pig’s bladder as a balloon, but there are some distinctly racist things in The Little House on the Prairie, and I don’t remember if there’s anything like that in LHitBW.)

We read half of Chapter 1 Sunday evening – until it was past Mr. Bean’s bedtime. We finished the chapter last night – because that’s what he decided on again. We’ll see what happens (after tonight, he’s at his dad’s for six nights, so he might forget by then), but he’s into it.

We do a lot of segues to explain hunting, and butchering, and what a bear trap is and why people don’t really use them anymore, and he’s enjoying the story and asking really good questions.

 

We talked about headcheese and pate and how sausage was made, and he’s expressed a desire to have some headcheese at the next available opportunity. I was thrilled (he’s already a connoisseur of paté and fancy cheeses…), especially since I just had headcheese for the first time a couple weeks ago! (His diet is still more limited than I’d like, but so much better than it was a year ago. He’ll eat pasta now, and mashed potatoes, and will usually try just about any vegetable, declare he loves it, and then not eat any more of it.)

Ever since he was born, I’ve looked forward to the day that I could start sharing my favorite books with him. For as much as I don’t want him to grow up too quickly, I also can’t wait for him to experience The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time. And to be there when he reads A Wrinkle in Time or The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Prydain or…

I’m not sure yet if this book will stand up to the test of time (other than the forthcoming racist bits that I’ve not yet decided how to handle), but I do know that this is an amazing experience.

Every parent thinks their kid is something special. And of course, all children are something special. It’s weird, though, looking at someone that I created (with an assist, obviously) and listening to his questions. His vocabulary astounds me sometimes, and he always wants to learn more, more, more. His “whys” are no longer purposeless (I’m sure that toddler whys have purpose…I’m equally sure that purpose is to annoy the fuck out of their parents), but instead looking for actual answers.

If I succeed at one thing while parenting, I hope that one thing is instilling my love of reading in Alvie Bean.

 

One response to “Book Review: Chapter Book with the Bean

  1. I tried reading Little House in the Big Woods to my kids as a bedtime story a few months ago, and they had tons of questions and generally hated it. I didn’t find the content particularly relevant either. It’s a tough read. I gave them the whole thing (racism included) with historical context, but it was the hunting parts that scared them the most. And just seeing how much harder people had to work just to survive the winter back then was truly terrifying. We only made it through the first 5 chapters before they wanted to abandon, and I didn’t fight them on it. that’s a wild one.