One Wise Rodent

Happy Groundhog Day to you all! Do you ever feel like Phil Connors? Stuck in a time loop,  just like the character does in the movie “Groundhog’s Day”? As he puts it “what would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” A valid question. The movie makes me think. In my “glamorous” life as a SAHM I fall into that trap sometimes. Like Phil I can be mean and sarcastic-especially when the kitchen looks like a cyclone hit moments after I just cleaned it.

Each February second though, Mr. Tilney and I will watch this movie. Yes, it’s hilarious, but what brings me back is the thought provoking question that helps Phil Connors  (and m) from wallowing in hedonistic misery: “I don’t know Phil. Maybe it’s not a curse. Just depends how you look at it.” That is the turning point for our anti-hero, and he does just that. How? He focuses on making the people around him happy. He makes each day, every identical one, count for something. So today I’ve been asking myself, if this was the one day I had… what would I do to make it special?
One answer  I came up with is reading to my kids. Alright, alright, I know that in the past few posts I’ve talked about this a lot already. Hear me out. On those days when I’ve had enough, when it feels like my only accomplishments are that the kids are still alive and I haven’t been carried off in a straight jacket, reading aloud helps bring back some quiet and happiness not just to the kids, but  to me. It gives me a moment with each of my four sons, we have fun sharing a book, and inevitably I’m reminded that they’re not hellions bent upon my insanity, but wonderful children. The most important discovery though is yes, I still have the capacity to be a decent human being.
Here’s a little glimpse into how it works around here. Technically, it was Seth’s turn (left), but Jared (right) wanted to be on camera too. Any guesses on what we’re reading?
So, on days when tearing out my hair sounds like more fun than quality story time with my children, how do  I mellow out from rage monster to blissful bookworm? My secret is simple: books you can’t wait to pick up. Last week’s post I shared some of our top picks for the little ones, but what about the older members of your crew? Once a kid reads independently, story time seems to vanish faster than their belief in the tooth fairy. Yet none of us outgrows our need for love and the occasional dose of magic, and reading to your readers beautifully provides both.
Anyways, here you are! We have transition reads (for when they’re wanting more than a picture book and a lengthy book still doesn’t grab them), and some of our favourite chapter books.
Some of our top picks for reading to your readers, extensively tested by the literate members of my crew: Jared, Seth, and now, even Jack. 

Transition Books

1.  “Squishy McFluff the Invisible Cat” by Pip Jones
None of us can resist the charms of this imaginary pet (friend?) around here! As Ava assures her parents, she is not the one to blame for all the mischief about the house- it’s Squishy! First in a fabulous series. Told in rhyming short chapters this delightful read can still be finished in one sitting.
2. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl
I’ve read this one to Seth at least four times, but we all love it. Mr. Fox will have to be even more clever and fantastic than usual if he hopes to save not only his own family, but every other animal under the hill when the mean farmers go on a vindictive rampage.

3. “Dory Fantasmagory” by Abby Hanlon
I cannot recommend this book enough! Dory only want to play with her older brother and sister, but meanwhile, her wild imagination certainly keeps her entertained- often with hilarious- or disastrous results. Depends who you ask. The entire series is not to be missed.

Chapter Books

1. “Ollie’s Odyssey” by William Joyce
One beloved toy’s epic quest to not only save himself and the boy he loves, but all the other lost toys he finds on the way. Beautifully written and illustrated, this one made me laugh and cry. Not sure why it’s still not on my bookshelf.
2. “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
Don’t let the daunting size of this Caldecott winner scare you! Told through both words and pictures, here’s a book not to be missed. Hugo is an orphan, thief, and clock keeper secretly living in a Paris train station. When he collides with a determined girl and a mysterious toymaker, life becomes even more complicated.
3. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”
Alright, these are all a huge hit, but this is the one that starts them all. Jared wants me to read him all seven. Going to Hogwarts, learning magic and battling the forces of evil? He didn’t have to plead too hard. It’s a big endeavour, but I defy anyone to not at least enjoy these books, especially with a child for company.
Well, that’s it for today everybody. Until next time, make each day count… read to someone you love. Just maybe put the kids to bed a bit earlier tonight. I will be. Once they’re down, it’s Groundhog time!

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