Why We Love Books
I started reading through Judy Blume’s “Fudge” series right before Christmas, starting with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. When I read, I can still hear my sixth grade teacher’s voice in my head, reading it to me years ago. It’s the same with The Princess Bride, which will forever be voiced in my head by Ms. Betty White; I can’t read it without her. If any teachers out there wonder if they have an impact, never fear. You imprint on the moldable little creatures sitting before you and they carry a little bit of you with them through life.
Saturday, we sat around the post-breakfast crumbs reading SuperFudge. As I finished up the chapter, Ben announced
“I want to be Fudge! (the four year old),”
Abby said, “I want to be Peter! (the ten year old)”
and Isaac said, “I want to be Tootsie! (the baby)” and truly, that just about sums everything up. Susanna just held her little silver fork and shoved tiny piece of scrambled eggs in her mouth with her other hand, looking at us in wide-eyed wonder.
I think that’s the magic of books. They help us see who we are and what we’re feeling in ways we wouldn’t discover alone. I believe in the timing of books, both for myself and my kids. When I started the series, I just had fond memories and I was in the mood for some laughter. I knew Abby would identify with Peter’s feelings about being the oldest and feeling eclipsed by his three year old younger brother. But I didn’t anticipate how much we’d all relate to the family. Isaac was the same age as Fudge in the first book, and by the third book, the family had added Tootsie, a baby girl exactly the age of Susanna.
I remember hearing the book as a child and now I read it again as a parent and see new things. How the mom felt overwhelmed when Tootsie was born. How she was ready to return to a career almost immediately after her last baby, how both parents weren’t quite sure what they wanted–city life or small town life? Art history or dental hygienist? President of an advertising agency or writer/stay at home dad?
All of us find ourselves in the story and we feel a little less alone in our feelings. We laugh with Fudge and we are sober with Peter when his friend’s parents divorce. Peter struggles with changes in life; he feels out of control. Both Fudge and Peter wonder if they’ll get enough attention after Tootsie is born.
It helps, to see this family expand and grow and change and survive. Then we know that we, too, will be ok through our own changes and seasons.
That’s why we love books.