Because it’s part of my trade, I’ve hoarded a lot of the books I’ve collected over the years in the dusty attic, part of which is converted into a work area for me and a corner has been converted into a play area within eyesight of me. I’d hate to see the two small boys falling down those tricky, ladder-like wooden stairs. The books are here because there’s just no space for it downstairs. I have a workstation downstairs somewhere too.
The living room’s shelves are full too. I’ve stored these books up here, not yet ready to part with them, because they are so valuable to me. There are also hundreds of stories I’d like my little boys to read someday when they are older. My older kids have all touched on one or two of them over the years but their reading tastes are a whole lot different to mine. This has nothing to do with a generation gap – in fact; I sometimes feel that there is no generation gap between me and my older kids – but more to do with our humanity and the case of each and every one of us being different in our own unique ways.
I’d like to pick up a book one night, one that I’m particularly fond of, and go upstairs and sit with the boys for a while and read before the lights go out. Sure enough, they’re old enough to read by themselves, and read well they sure can do. But, really, wouldn’t that be nice. Now, before you have another go at me for being all soft inside, hear this. This practice of reading, or telling stories to younger members of the family or clan is as old as the hills.
In fact, this elemental tradition is thousands of years old. Go back way back when and you would find the village elder gathering the men and women around him and the warm fire before launching his frail, elderly frame into a story of mammoth proportions. And, in many of those cases, those stories would be true. The able-bodied men, usually with their camp leader in the front, would be out on dangerous hunting expeditions anyhow, hunting those very mammoths and chasing down massive saber toothed tigers.
Or am I making this all up? And does it really matter anyhow? A story is still a story. It just depends on how well it is told. And in any case, today we have to make up stories anyway just to appease them or nurture them to gently get to sleep. I’d like to take up the likes of Dickens and Tolstoy to these boys one night and re-imagine the original story to them. Even for us adults this can be hectic to read so don’t be disheartened when you ambitiously foist a copy of War and Peace or Great Expectations under the nose of your fourteen year old son.
Try reading those giant tomes yourself. For now, I’m quite happy to play the Joker to my boys while they flip through their favorite Batman comics. Fairy tales, they say, are for girls, so, in a sense, the super hero comic book genre (and movies) is their fairy tale. After all, it is all made up, isn’t it?