Now that the boys are spending more time awake and alert, I have been assisting with the stimulation of their imaginations by reading to them. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the times my mother would read to me right before bed.
So with a snuggly swaddle and tummies filled with warm milk, our little family enjoys story time. So far we have read “Love You
Forever,” “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” “Are You My Mother?,” “Panda Bear Panda Bear What Do You See?,” “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “Goodnight Moon.”
Remember Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton? The long-running award-winning series explored themes from children’s literature books. This is the same approach I am taking during the muppets stay in the NICU. The boys have instantly taken to this; but you don’t have to take my word for it.
I read the first two books mentioned several weeks ago. I needed Search and Destroy to know how immediately and intensely in love with them I was. “Love You Forever” shared that sentiment perfectly. No matter what happens, no matter how old – they’ll always be my babies. During their blood transfusions, Alexander’s story was the best metaphor to let the poor little guys know that there are always sucky days, no matter where you are (even in the NICU). I read the stories through portholes in a closed isolette. The boys were asleep.
Yesterday, Destroy was wide awake with his inquisitive little eyes looking at me as I sat with him. So I pulled out “Are You My Mother” and asked him if he wanted to read a story. He smiled. As we followed the little bird’s journey, Destroy looked intently at the pages. He cooed as I performed the voices of various animals who were not the little birds mother. He squirmed and waved his arms when the little bird encountered the large Snort. And when we finished, he looked up at me, still smiling, as if to say, “I know YOU are my Mommy.”
Today was bath night. So after we tucked in a fresh and clean (and royally peeved) Search back into bed, I thought “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” would be comforting and calming. He looked at the brightly colored pages with great interest. Notably, his favorite part of the story were the depictions of food the little caterpillar ate his way through. I tickled his tummy when we came to the page stating that the little caterpillar was now a big fat caterpillar! This book is our theme song/NICU mission statement.
Shockingly, after tonight’s bath, dinner and cuddle time, Destroy was still awake. He lay in my arms, not fussing, just looking around at me and Dad. He seemed quite content. So Dad pulled out “Goodnight Moon” to further soothe our little man. Dad didn’t remember this gem from his childhood so he was just as interested in the story as Destroy.
When Dad read the final line, “Good night noises, everywhere,” Destroy finally closed his eyes and drifted off into dreamland. If there ever was a book synonymous with bedtime – this is it.
After a bit more cuddling I tucked him in and checked on his brother. With a throwback to my afternoons with Reading Rainbow on the TV, I whispered, “I’ll see you next time.”
Some of the other classics we can’t wait to experience are:
- Berenstain Bears
- Clifford the Big Red Dog
- Company’s Coming
- Curious George
- Dr. Seuss (Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop)
- The Giving Tree
- Harold and the Purple Crayon
- The Jolly Postman
- The Magic Schoolbus Series
- Make Way for Ducklings
- Pat the Bunny
- The Polar Express
- Rainbow Goblins
- Strega Nona
- The Story of Ferdinand
- Velveteen Rabbit
- When You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- Where the Sidewalk Ends
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Where’s Spot
What were your favorite children’s books? And what are the new classics our boys will want to read to their children about?
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a Mother who read to me.
– by Strickland Gillilan