Molly has decided to decorate the wall on her side of the room with posters. It started when the girls’ nanny Jackie helped Molly and Claire make a big crayon drawing of the own names. Molly and Claire both immediately wanted to mount it on the wall above their beds.
After this, Molly was inspired. She scrounged up some posters that came with some of her books, some of her favorite characters. There are the standard Disney princesses and The Pigeon. We’ve been really into the Mo Willems “Pigeon” books. They are short and really fun to read in silly voices. Molly even does an amazing little tiny voice for the little tiny chick in The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. Anyways, The Pigeon is a funny bird and a bit of a troublemaker. And now he takes his place along side the princesses on Molly’s wall.
Claire is sticking with just her name poster for now. I told Claire that in a few years, she and Molly would be putting up Justin Bieber posters. Claire was horrified. “Whaaat?!?! No way, Dad!!!” is all she could say. I hope she is right.
It has been a while since the last favorite books entry on this blog, so here we go…
For bedtime stories, Claire has been reading the Harry Potter series almost every night for months now. We just finished up book #3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Claire loves the HP series and has a tendency to think it is real. Occasionally she even insists that it is real, a non-function book as she put it once. Each time we finish reading a book, we get to rent the movie afterwards. After watching one of the movies, Claire said, “Do you think that is what it really looked like?” She seems to understand that the movies are just movies but thinks they are based on real events. We have stressed to Claire that the stories are made up by J.K. Rowling, a nice, talented writer from England. One time I showed Claire an interview of J.K. Rowling on The Daily Show just to drive home the point that this is all made up by this one lady, and there she is. Claire seems to understand rationally that the story is actually fiction, but it also just seems real to her. That must make the stories very vivid for her.
For the sake of mixing things up a bit, we are trying Nancy Drew mystery series now. Claire is luke warm on Nancy Drew. She says it is alright, but it is just not as exciting as Harry Potter.
We also listen to the Ramona Quimby audiobook collection every day after school, while driving to pick up Molly. Listening to Ramona stories peacefully in the car with Claire after a hard day of work is a highlight of every day for me. I really look forward to those 20-30 minutes.
As for Molly…
Molly has more variety than Claire at the moment. It is hard to pin down a favorite. She can pick three books to take to bed each night, and usually they are different. Lately, though, one of the three is almost always one of the big Harry Potter books. This is surprising since Molly cannot read and the books have no pictures except for the cover and the start of each chapter. But Molly seems to enjoy the pure physicality of the Harry Potter books and insists on saving her place with a bookmark every night. Molly also loves Claire’s school yearbook from last year (kindergarten). She loves to look at all the kids and teachers, some of whom she knows. The third book is the wildcard. A long-running favorite is Dr. Seuss’ Big Green Book of Beginner Books. She keeps a bookmark as she works her way through this book too. She likes any Dr. Seuss book, of course, but this big one is her favorite. Basically, she likes big hardback books. Molly also enjoys pop-up books such as a Peter Rabbit pop-up that we have. She also enjoys some cute little books such as the square Little Miss and Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves and the occasional book about potty training.
Molly has been enjoying the classics. She went through a big Cat in the Hat phase. This one is really fun to read if you add the full dramatic flair, with silly voices and dramatic pauses. It also takes a long time to read if you do it right, so we often have to skip over the “middle bit”, i.e. the middle 1/3 of the book, since this book tends to get Molly late to bed.
Molly has also been enjoying Harry the Dirty Dog. She likes this one in particular because the book itself was Kit’s when she was a little girl. When Kit first told Molly that the book had been hers when she was small, Molly got a really surprised look on her face, sort of a “Holy s**t!” look, as Kit tells me. Molly may have been taken aback that Kit was ever a little girl. We have another, newer copy of this book too, and Molly insists that one was my book when I was little. This is actually not true, and I have told Molly that it was not my book, but Molly shrugs this news off. It was my book according to her view of the world.
Kit normally reads Molly her bedtime story, so she might have more to add. Molly also been enjoying Ladybug Girl at the Beach, which was actually a gift to Claire from her aunt Betsy. Claire read it once or twice and moved on, but Molly really loves this story about a girl playing around at the beach with her dog and family and conquering her fear of the water.
Claire has been mostly checking out non-fiction animal books from the school library. We covered lions for a while, thanks to the movie The Lion King, which made lions look cute and fun. But Claire has turned away from lions a bit lately after realizing that they are really more ferocious and dangerous than cute. “I don’t like lions any more. They’re mean and gross.”, I think she said. This realization came after she saw a picture of a lion holding a dead, limp animal in its bloody mouth. Claire has since then been focusing on dolphins, which really are cute and sweet. They save people’s lives and fight sharks, which really is cool.
We also try to get Claire to read her own lithe books that she takes home from school as reading assignments. Claire is usually too tired to read on her own, though, and just can’t seem to focus at the late hour right before bed. So we are trying to find another time for her to read to us, but it is tough to find the time on a weekday.
Recently, Claire has come up with a new idea for bedtime stories. Instead of a story, she said the other night, “why don’t we just cuddle and talk for a while?” Sure, why not? The whole idea is just to help her relax and top off the day before going to bed. The first night she said, “What should we talk about? Moats?” We had been talking about moats, her idea, for a few days. We had mostly exhausted the topic, but we quickly reviewed our knowledge of moats, and then went on to Q&A. We covered each other’s favorite colors and a couple of other basics. Among other things, we covered Claire’s latest career plans.
Besides Q&A, Claire decided that we should make up stories to tell each other. Each night she would make up a story such as “Elizabeth and the magic sock” or “Lilly and the magic jellybean”. These stories are cute but tend to ramble on and go in circles for quite a while, either because she cannot figure out how to end the story or because she is trying to put off bedtime, or probably a little bit of both. (Claire is also writing and illustrating a book called “Candy Land”, or “Kandi Land” as she has written it with her growing writing skills.) After Claire’s story, Kit or I have to make up a story. Mine usually end up with pirates on a ship, or talking food, for some reason. And mine tend to ramble on too because it’s actually really hard to find a good conclusion to a story that you’re just making up on the spot. Really hard. I kind of want to go back to reading someone else’s stories!
Molly loves her Elmo sticker book. For a while, she refused to go anywhere without it. “I want my Elmo book”, was commonly heard, especially just before leaving the house. She would sit and study it in the car for long spells, such as the recent trip to Houston.
Molly also spent quite a while absorbed in an issue of Austin Family magazine, which we happened to bring home from some restaurant or the like. She would love to look over the pages for bedtime, labeling all the things in its pages, a mommy, some vegetables, a ball, swimming. She really loved this magazine!
At the moment, Molly’s favorite book is definitely the classic of classics, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. This is Kit’s and my favorite too. It is lots of fun to read, really an amazing book. This “Dr. Seuss” guy has a lot of promise! The Cat in the Hat book takes a while to read, though, especially if you take the time necessary to read it in a fully fun and dramatic way. So we usually skip the middle just to get Molly to bed in time!
Claire has been enjoying a variety of books, although no specific book has risen as the unchallenged leader lately. She has been somewhat into nonfiction, often inspired by a movie. She has checked out school library nonfiction books on dolphins (thanks to the movie A Dolphin Tale), lions (thanks to The Lion King), and even a resurgence in books on ancient Egypt (thanks to A Night at the Museum 2). The lion book was from National Geographic and was sufficiently realistic to be quite gruesome (but still fascinating). Claire does not like lions as much since reading that book! Dolphins are still sweet and cute, though.
Most importantly, Claire has also been reading to us more than ever! She brings home a folder of beginner books from school and takes great pride in reading them to us at bedtime. She is now reading more complex books with real stories, and not just the sample, repetitive books she started out with. She is pretty confident with her reading skills and keeps plugging away at tough words and sentences until she figures them out. And this late in her day when she is most tired. We’re so proud of her for sticking with it!
A relatively new installment in this blog is to make a quick note, every few months, of the girls’ favorite books. Here is installation number 2. There, it’s official. This is a regular thing now. 🙂
Claire has recently started to read her own books to us, but we still like to read to her every night too. Claire’s favorite series right now is Fancy Nancy. She gets a new Fancy Nancy book from the school library about once a week. The recent sampling includes Fancy Nancy and the Late, Late, LATE Night, Fancy Nancy: Halloween…or Bust!, Fancy Nancy: The 100th Day of School, and Fancy Nancy and the Boy from Paris. Occasionally we buy a Fancy Nancy book, and sometimes they have stickers, and she’ll put one or two stickers on the pages of the book (never anywhere else) each night until nearly every open space in the book is covered by a sticker.
Molly has also been enjoying a series, in her case Elmer. Elmer is a colorful, patchwork elephant. He loves to explore his world and point out the colors, sizes, numbers, etc. of the animals around him. Elmer always ends up going to sleep at the end of the story. Molly also loves Corduroy, which is one of those sweet classic kids’ stories that is always fun to read. When the stuffed animal Corduroy pops the button off a mattress and falls off the bed, Molly loves to say, “Oh no! Bear fell down!” Perhaps not coincidentally, Claire also used to love both Elmer and Corduroy as a toddler. This pair cannot be resisted by the toddler set!
There have been a few random posts in the past about the girls’ favorite books at the time, such as Chrysanthemum and Knuffle Bunny. Now I am going to make an effort to post their favorites regularly, about every 6 months. It should be interesting to see how their favorites change over time. So here we go…
Molly’s favorite book at the moment is Going to the Potty by Fred Rogers.
Molly loves to sit and “read” this book in her leisure time. She is transfixed by the pictures of toddlers sitting on toilets, being praised and helped by their ostensible parents. Molly is not quite yet starting toilet training, but they are talking about toilets, BM’s, etc. at school now, so it is a good subject.
Kit and I love this book too. The book is 25 years old, and its pictures are badly outdated in a funny way. The writing is quite entertaining, too, such as, “Some children wet or mess their pants now and then before they really get used to going to the potty. Learning to stay clean and dry is one way to please you mom and dad and you!”
Molly is also especially enjoying Cuddle! and Corduroy, two very sweet and entertaining books.
Claire’s favorite book right now is our least favorite, Barbie: Princess Charm School, based on a movie of the same name.
Kit and I were somewhat skeptical about the whole Barbie thing initially a few months ago when Claire first discovered it, but we were pleasantly surprised with the relative quality of movies like Twelve Dancing Princesses. But Princess Charm School, which Claire picked from the Scholastic catalog from school, and which we assumed was alright, is pure drivel. In the book, Barbie is a hardworking waitress who is picked by lottery to attend the prestigious Princess Charm School, where “girls were trained to become princesses and Lady Royals”. Most of the story involves the backstabbing treachery of a snobby, jealous teacher. Eventually, Barbie joins her slightly-skanky friends and overcomes her obstacles by simply inheriting the throne of Queen of Gardania. Hurray for monarchy! Wait, what the… ? The book pays lip service to hard work and honesty, but in the end it is pretty clear that really the best thing is to be the queen’s pretty daughter. When we read it, Kit and I do our best to draw some helpful conclusions and perspectives from this book.
Claire just loves this book, though, I guess for the drama and the visuals. For example, she told me that this page is maybe the prettiest thing she has ever seen.
This page definitely scores big on its overall pinkness and fairy-related content, big points for Claire right now.