Roughly 1 out of every 11 times I walk out of my office (i.e. “the diaper-changing room,” our official name for the guest bedroom that now doubles as my workspace), I behold a particularly wondrous sight in the living room.

The other 10 out of 11 sights are pretty wondrous too — the kids dancing around the kitchen, or sliding down their plastic slide, or drawing at the dining room table, or having stories read to them by Danielle. (And yes, sometimes being quite fussy or having a loud meltdown.) But every 11th time I walk out of my office, which amounts to roughly once a day, I see the following diorama:

Greyson and Violet sitting snugly on the sofa, side by side, sunlight streaming through the window behind them, while they contentedly peruse books, sweetly reading aloud to themselves and to each other.


Sometimes they’re each reading their own book, with Greyson leaning over to identify things for Violet, and sometimes they’re sharing the same book. It’s a priceless sight for a parent, and it always makes my heart spontaneously contract with paternal pride and ardent affection.

I have read books to both of our kids ever since they were wee babies. Greyson immediately took to it like a duck to water, floating happily through the shallows of each book, scanning the surface of each page for any new word or image he could point at and savor.

Violet was a tougher study since she’s always been action-oriented, a go-go-go girl (never to be confused with a go-go girl), restlessly wriggling off my lap after a few pages when she was 12 to 18 months old. But in the last few months, she’s reversed this trend entirely, joyfully letting me read as many books as I’m willing to read her before bedtime each night. I suspect that her big brother has been a good influence on her in the literacy department. He’s helped her to value cerebral pursuits along with her instinctive love of more kinetic endeavors.


So how did we get so lucky?  Well, between Danielle and me, we’ve certainly done our part to embed in them a love of books (and an ambivalence toward screens). But I’m sure that on some level, the kids must have also just been born with a certain bookish, page-turning disposition. Their grandmas have both worked for libraries, one of their grandpas reads books while he takes walks (!), and their parents (i.e. I and she) were both English majors. So… a bit of nature, a bit of nurture.

Whatever the exact ratio or the precise genesis of their bookwormishness, it’s intensely gratifying to know that each of my kids adore reading. If my heart was a chocolate cake, then it gets slathered with an extra-thick, extra-gooey layer of chocolate joy frosting when I see them reading together. Without any prompting. The feeling is mildly euphoric.


Their progress has been delightful to witness. I was able to start reading chapter books with Greyson since he was about 3½, such as The Lighthouse Family series by Cynthia Rylant, the Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner, and we’ve just started the original Paddington book by Michael Bond. [Please message me with your favorite suggestions!] His focus on these books, even with minimal pictures, is getting better by the month.

Meanwhile, with Violet I’ve recently been able to leap from board books to some of the longer books that I was reading Greyson when he was 2 and even 3. Even though our polysyllabic girl only has a dozen or two different words in her verbal repertoire at this point, she listens and absorbs these books like a word sponge. Once her verbal ability “clicks,” this girl is going to be like the Dave Matthews Band — so much to say! I can’t wait to hear exactly what she has on her mind.

But even beyond the pride I feel in my kids’ cognitive development, it just means the world to be able to sit with each of them every night, and many mornings too, snuggled together on our glider chair. With the possible exception of nature walks, there is no type of fatherly bonding that I have found to be more satisfying.

Just me and my bookworms, nestled in our book nook, reading a book.

The world and all its aching, roiling sadness fades away.

All that exists is the story we’re immersed in.

We leaf through each page.

Imagination takes root.

A tree grows.


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