The best thing in the world is happening, and it's that we're reading a chapter a night from Charlotte's Web. You may or may not know that it's my favorite book ever of all time, and I have been looking forward to sharing it with HR (again) since I read it to him while he was still kickin' it my womb. He's ready now for sharing chapter books, and it's been awesome.
One thing that strikes me, as something new strikes me every time I revisit a favorite book, is how genius E. B. White is at treating young readers as people, giving them credit and never dumbing down. He uses a ton of unfamiliar vocabulary on purpose, some that he explains through the characters' use as a sly (but never pedantic at the expense of the story) lesson. Some is presented as-is, which provokes curiosity and discussion. We've talked about words a lot, as we go along, and it occurs to me now that Charlotte's Web is a book as much about the love of language as anything, and sharing that love with my son is one of the greatest joys of motherhood so far.
This passage about Wilbur's reaction to being told he meant less than nothing by a lamb in the barn was especially revelatory to me:
“What do you mean less than nothing? I don't think there is any such thing as less than nothing. Nothing is absolutely the limit of nothingness. It's the lowest you can go. It's the end of the line. How can something be less than nothing? If there were something that was less than nothing, then nothing would not be nothing, it would be something - even though it's just a very little bit of something. But if nothing is nothing, then nothing has nothing that is less than it is.”
He's more offended by the imprecision of the language than the sentiment, and if ever there was a paragraph more telling of a White-ian sensibility (which so many of his admirers share), I haven't read it. Major points for it being engaging enough to a six-year-old, too. Our Charlotte's Web experience has been a blast, I don't want it to end, and not just because I'm dreading the thought of sobbing my way through the concluding events.
Can't everything be books and sharing books and talking about books?
Oh, BURN, sir!
All right. On that note I'm going to take my stack of reading and my stubborn hope to the ocean and into the bosom of my most favorite people for a nice long while. I love you and I love America and I'll see you on the other side.