|Me and my big sisters. "You used to be so cute," they love to tell me.|
|They used to be pretty darn cute themselves!|
This is not because my sister is evil. What she was laughing about, as I knew without her having to say so, is how much I've changed. As a kid, I read constantly in the car. Front seat, back seat, smooth highway, gravel road--didn't matter. I'd plow through multiple books on road trips, rolling my eyes when my sisters would ask, "How can you DO that?!?" My ability started to taper off sometime in my 20s, and now I am completely unable to read more than a few words in a car or bus. (Trains and planes are still good, thank God.)
|I read all the way to Canada.|
They started reading aloud to me when I was little. Aged 11 (the twins) and 13 when I was born, they were happy to revisit childhood favorites with me and to see what picture books had been published since their younger years. I learned to read quickly, and appropriated books that had been theirs: Heidi, Eight Cousins, King of the Wind, Wild Animals I Have Known. They shaped my taste, buying me books for birthdays and holidays, helping me recognize obscure gems at garage sales, stopping by the library to select books for me on days I was home in bed.
|We always take books camping. But this is probably a "posed candid," as our dad called them.|
It wasn't just Peg, though. On my 8th birthday, Liz bought me not one, not two, but THREE books that became absolute favorites: A Little Princess, The Good Master and Understood Betsy. A little later, Pat let me borrow her e.e. cummings collection and Hard Times. As I grew towards adulthood, I started trading book titles and authors with them, and we figured out where our tastes overlapped--which is nearly, but not quite everywhere. I struggled through Confederacy of Dunces and She's Come Undone because Liz raved about them, but I detested them both. Peg keeps trying to get me to read Reading Lolita in Tehran, but I just couldn't get into it. On the other hand, when I encouraged her to read Prodigal Summer, she dismissed it as middle-aged wish fulfillment.
|This picture has nothing to do with this post, but it cracks me up. Easter finery ca. 1968.|
My apprenticeship has long since ended, and I push books on my sisters with the same enthusiasm they have always shown me. A few weeks ago, I handed Pat a copy of Gone Girl, and a few weeks before that, I checked out Blue Monday at the library for Peg, because she'd been intrigued when she saw Tuesday's Gone on my end table. "Got anything good for me to read?" is a common question between all of us.
These reading sisters have become reading moms and reading aunts. We shake our heads at parents who tell their kids "Just three books!" at the library. "It's a LIBRARY, man. Let them get all the books they want," we mutter to each other. Kids in our families still get books on birthdays and holidays. Liz's sons' outgrown books formed the backbone of my classroom library. As we continued on in the car the other day, Pat gave me a few suggestions of read-alouds her kids loved when they were my kids' ages. I took note. I know she knows what she's talking about. She's my big sister, after all.
|Look at them checking out that salamander. How adorable are they?|