Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time to Read Elephant Small

GoofGirl is learning to read, which is pretty cool – although she is frustrated with it. She can understand complicated stories (she listened to the Harry Potter series with her brother). But the books she can read now are very simple and yet are a huge slog for her to get through.

This is pretty normal. I didn’t really learn to read until I was seven, and I’m a writer now! Living in region dominated by over-achievers where children can be tracked to special education if they aren’t reading by kindergarten – my story is a bit of PTA samizdat. In fact my tale has spread and anxious parents comfort themselves with it like early Christians reciting the catechism in the catacombs.

Anyway, GoofGirl has to read a book to her class. She picked Time for Bed Elephant Small. Before we got into Beverly Clearly, Judy Blume, and Barbara Park this was a bedtime favorite. As GoofGirl works her way through she also explicates the story for me (WARNING: If you are ever planning to read Time for Bed Elephant Small, read no further since what follows pretty much ruins it.)

“Daddy,” she explained, “I think the elephants are toys in a dollhouse. A girl is playing bedtime with them. That is why they have those seams and look like stuffed animals. And Clockwork Mouse, who Elephant Small chases before bedtime - he is a toy mouse. That's why he has a wind-up thing. At the end, when Elephant Mom opens the window so Elephant Small can see the moon. I think it is just a piece of paper with the sky and the moon painted on it and pasted to the dollhouse window.”

This clever interpretation had never occurred to me. She will be ready to read soon enough – but I’m not sure reading is ready for her.

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