I've spent the week back at Plumfield with Jo March Bhaer and her little men. When my parents packed up to move back to the States from Indonesia, my one request was that they bring their copy of Little Men for me. I have Little Women (as should every respectable home) but was having a hard time tracking down its sequel at the used bookstores I frequent. There are some books you don't want to buy on Amazon. Although, true confession, I did get the free kindle version of Jo's Boys, which I had somehow never read. And I feel no shame because, Louisa May Alcott, you done me wrong with that one.
At any rate, it got me thinking about the books that I read as a child and which ones I felt needed to be in my home and why. The year Littles was born, I spent a solid month trying to track down a counting board book by Gyo Fujikama that I felt was absolutely needed in his life. I finally gave up because it was no where to be found, but got to read it to the twins this last week while at my parents. It was as lovely as I remembered, but the desperate need to have our own family copy had passed.
|One beautiful bird, two loving people, three funny goblins, four delightful dreams...|
::photo courtesy of my mother who is incredibly gracious to me::
Still, I didn't hesitate to bring Little Men back to my own book hoard. There are some books that need to be within reach on a regular basis. I may not reread Little Men for a while, but when I see it on my bookshelf, it will remind me of a few heartening lessons that I just might need in the moment.
In retrospect, I know that most readers attach memories and feelings to the books that they read. Those books read during a happy childhood, then, carry extra weight. Not only do we remember upon re-reading them how it felt to be safe, cared for, and loved, but when we have our own children, we want them to feel those same things so we give them those same books. Without realizing it, we introduce our kids to our childhood favorites, not realizing that our memories are less a product of the books we read and more a result of the fact that we genuinely were safe, cared for, and loved. And our children probably are too--with or without the same exact library.
I don't know which books my children will grow up to remember with nostalgia, but I do hope that the memories that accompany them are sweet. And that's why I re-read Little Men--because I can always use an extra dose of wisdom from Marmee and the Bhaers.
It's also why I don't stop reading to Littles at night even if Tiny has already fallen asleep. You never know what could be seeping into his snoring subconscious. It could be wonderful!