The Day My Daughter Chose a Book over Me Bookmark and Share

The Day My Daughter Chose a Book over Me

Anyone who’s known me for more than a week probably knows I am a bookworm. Give me an hour of precious free time, and I’ll quickly bury my head in the world of words.

It took years before my husband finally realized that when I’m deep in a good story, he no longer exists to me. And should he persist in trying to get my attention, he deserves the fury he may unleash for pulling me so cruelly back to reality.

One of my best childhood memories was the regular trips to the public library with my dad. He read Forbes and the stock pages of the newspaper (remember when you had to wait a day to see your stock prices?), while I perused the shelves, piling up as many books as was allowable to check out for my age.

It’s no wonder then that one of my goals as a mother was to teach my child to love reading. I’ve read to her since she was born. Books are always under the Christmas tree. She was reading before she went to kindergarten, and her love of books has blossomed.

Still, when it comes to bedtime reading, she has always preferred to snuggle next to me in her bed as I read to her, altering my voice to fit the characters. When I create suspense with dramatic pauses and hushed whispers, she bounces about ready to jump from her skin—unable to contain her excitement.

Our reading is an interactive experience—me explaining words she doesn’t yet know, her asking rapid-fire questions, both of us wondering out loud what will happen next. My husband often asks if he needs to come in and separate us because it’s getting late and the giggling is getting loud.

Then, the inevitable happened.

I had purchased her a four pack of Magic Treehouse books for her Kindle. She was hooked. For four days, she read every moment she could, rapidly working her way through them. At times, I’d speak to her and she wouldn’t answer. I understood—I simply didn’t exist at that moment. She was on an adventure with Jack and Annie.

She would beg me to wake her early so she could read before school. She would beg to stay up after our reading time. She proclaimed her love of reading multiple times a day, stating that she, too, had been bitten by the reading bug.

Mission accomplished! At the age of 7, my daughter fell in love hard and I couldn't have asked for a better suitor. It wasn’t until she asked if she could read by herself to finish the fourth book instead of me reading to her that I understood the bittersweet momentousness of the occasion.

Perhaps she could hear the subtle disappointment in my voice as I said, “of course, you can read on your own.” She quickly assured me that even though she wanted to read alone, she still loved me. She still wanted me to read to her—another night—but that night she simply wanted to finish her book.

The book lover in me rejoiced. How many times have I woken with a reading hangover from “just one more chapter”? The mother in me, however, was dealt quite a blow. 

I may have led my daughter into the magical worlds of Little House and Harry Potter, but she is ready to venture new places on her own. The world of books is calling her, and my time as narrator is coming to an end. Reading is, after all, a solitary activity.

Except for a wonderful little thing called book club. I’m already in the book club that doesn’t read (my dear Denver girlfriends) and two others in Milwaukee. What’s one more?

Our mother-daughter book club is in the works. It’s a big decision determining which book we will read first, but my daughter is excited about the idea that we will read the same book at the same time. I’ll let her choose what we read. I’m just along for the ride—hoping that unlike in my other book clubs, I’ll get to snuggle up next to my fellow member, happily enjoying an imaginary world side by side. 

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  1. Patricia

    Patricia on 04/16/2015 7:12 a.m. #

    Oh my gosh what a wonderful post. It brought tears to my eyes... The memories of reading to my own children and then having them "move on," but mostly the vision of Symone being bitten by the "reading bug.." Just beautiful Heidi. Hugs to both you book worms!

  2. Gigi

    Gigi on 04/16/2015 8:40 a.m. #

    When we had Symone over Spring break, we stopped at a restaurant on our way up north. I had to smile as the girls read their menu and discussed what they were going to eat. I was very proud of their abilities but felt left out. They are growing up so fast. What a great idea though to had your own book club. I would love to here about what you are reading.

  3. Jana

    Jana on 04/16/2015 9:10 a.m. #

    Love this Heidi!! I, too, just love reading with the kids, especially Brooklyn at this age and can't wait for her to be reading words on her own. I just glow inside when the kids sit down on the floor to read a book on their own :) three cheers for the reading bug!

  4. Rebecca

    Rebecca on 04/17/2015 9:29 p.m. #

    How wonderful, Heidi! Mom and Dad used to sing to me before going to bed, and sometimes read or tell stories. Beautiful memories. And to this day, reading before bed can be my solace. You are such an amazing, nurturing mom. Hugs to you, dear friend.

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