Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Little Lucy Pevensie: A Celebration of International Children's Book Day

When I was young, my mother bought me a beautiful leather bound illustrated edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination.  I suppose such works might be considered rather dark for an eight-year-old girl, but I devoured and adored those tales.  It was probably this book, more than any other, which made me fall in love with the world of fiction and all its wonderment.  Actually, she bought this book for my brother, and gave me the Arabian Nights, but I preferred Poe, just as I too prefer to tell this story slant.  Regardless of who was truly the recipient of that book, it remains a treasure of mine, and now sits on my bookshelves. 
My brother and I were both avid readers in our youth, sharing all the childhood classics like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.  She also bought us annotated versions of classic tales such as Moby Dick, Treasure Island, A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and the like.  It was a charming and appropriately age adapted collection that I was so sad to learn she had donated to Goodwill years ago.  I would have been positively delighted if my children were now able to read those very same editions.  Despite this one disappointment, I cannot possibly thank my mother enough for instilling a love of reading in me.
International Children's Book Day is a day to inspire and ignite a love for reading no matter how old or young you may be. 

What book from your childhood made you the bookworm you are today?!
What was your favorite childhood book?
I believe it is incredibly important that we read to our children, and I have most certainly made this a priority in our household.  As today celebrates International Children’s Book Day, it is an appropriate occasion to reflect upon my own memories with the written word, as I now continue to build a strong adoration of literature in my own two children. 
Although she is only age three, I have already introduced Emily to Tolkien and Lewis.  She was a very attentive audience as I read The Hobbit aloud to her, asking quite insightful questions about the dragon, and continually requesting, “You let me see that map again, Momma,” turning to the front of the book and analyzing the illustrated cover pages, “So this where that dragon live, Momma?”  Only once did she bore of the story and wish to retire to bed early, stating, “No more this Bilbo story!” 
Currently, Emily and I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia together.  We are on book five of the seven book series.  She will race into bed with me at night and ask, “Can we read some more about Shasta and the horsy, Momma?”  During books two and three, this question was, “Momma, you ready to read to me about Reepicheep?”  Her excitement and enthusiasm over these tales gives me immense delight.
Emily is my little Lucy Pevensie, with a heart and mind full of the wonder of youth and the wisdom of age.  She constantly amazes me, and I wish I could capture her innocent wonder and trust, just as C.S. Lewis captured the valiant traits of Lucy on the pages of his beloved fictional books.  
As you are likely aware, the world of Narnia was also captured on film with the 2005 release of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, starring Tilda Swinton.  It was this past weekend that I first viewed this film.  My parents had a copy of it among their DVDs and my daughter noticed it and requested to watch “the Aslan movie.”  The film has slightly more exposition than the novel, beginning with scenes of the Second World War, and the Blitz bombings which led to the children’s evacuation to the countryside.  As the scenes rolled across the television screen, Emily informed her grandfather, “Grandpa, I think this the wrong movie.  Where is the magic?  Where is Aslan?”  We told her to be patient, and her beloved Aslan did soon appear, much to her great excitement.  “It’s Aslan!” she squealed in delight, “There he is!”  When the youngest Pevensie first appeared on screen, she eagerly asked, “Is that Lucy?  Lucy is my favorite!” 
Lucy is my favorite too.
As the film closed and the credits began to roll, my daughter looked to my spouse to question, “That’s it, Daddy?  I don’t want this movie done.  Where is Reepicheep? I want to see Reepicheep!”  Reepicheep, the mighty mouse, does not appear until the tales of Prince Caspian in the second book of the series.  However, I found it extremely clever and so deeply endearing that my daughter remembered these characters and made such comments during the film.
While my daughter rules my world and melts my heart on the daily, I did not compose this post merely to brag about what a kick-ass mommy I am and what a “totes-adorb” toddler I have (she is so damn cute, though, you guys). I do not believe or mean to propose that she is a child genius or savant.  I do strongly believe, however, that reading has enhanced her imagination, her academic aptitude, and her whole life.  I know reading has imparted unto me such rich rewards.   A beautiful, bold imagination and a curious, sharp mind are not unattainable skills bestowed only upon the most genetically brilliant.  A child need only to be provided with the offering of reading and he or she can too possess a daring imagination and tireless thirst for knowledge.  Therefore, this post serves as a public service announcement requesting that all parents bequest onto their children the vision, creativity, and ingenuity that are yielded from a love of reading.
Go forth and read, my friends!

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