By Carrie Johns, Secretary Registrar and Convocation, Registration Centre, VIU
No, really. He read his first story book to me and my husband this weekend.
Okay – it was Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and he took some liberties with the text – but still. He’s heard enough of the book to recognize what part of the story goes with what picture (sort of) and can just about read the whole book himself. And to me, that’s amazing.
When I was a kid, I remember hearing some sort of “fact” that said that the average human brain gets a wrinkle every time it learns something new. This “fact” concluded with a little tidbit that encouraged the listener to think of how wrinkly one’s brain would get after reading a book. That little visual stuck with me for many years. As an avid reader, how wrinkly is my brain now?
Sadly, a quick Google search informs me that this “fact” is mere B.S., and that when you’re born, your brain is just about as wrinkly as it’s ever going to get. But imagine what you learn, what new neural connections are made every time you read something new?
For example, just from having heard the story so many times, my son was able to demonstrate that he knew that in the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of “a cow jum’ing o’er a moon.” Sure, he has no idea what a bowl full of mush is or why there’s an old lady whispering “hush” but he knows that you say goodnight to them, even if it’s just to be polite. And that’s more than he knew two months ago, when he was still a passive member of our nightly storytelling gang.
I know it won’t end there; in fact, it’s just the beginning. He’s already starting to anticipate the narrative in other favourites like A Cuddle for Little Duck and A Kiss for Little Kitten, both by the admirable Claire Freedman. Alaska’s ABC Bears (Shannon Cartwright), with its S-is-for-swimming-bear and L-is-for-little-bear, has been mastered, even if he’s not sure what x-is-for-xray-bear really means. But he’ll pick up the details later; for now, it’s all about collecting new words.
I can’t wait to introduce him to some of the books I read when I was younger, like James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl) and Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder). Stories like these sparked my imagination and sense of creativity, and taught me a thing or two about friends and family and overcoming giant-peach-sized obstacles. And oh, all the new words!
Books have taught me so much already, and I learn every time I pick another one up. What will they teach him? How wrinkly will his brain get?