Toddlers ravage their books. They devour them, quite literally. They tear their favorite page out of a book to keep with them always. It strikes me that part of socialization involves teaching children not to destroy books during a thrilling reading session but to cherish them. Holding a book gingerly like a loved one’s hand means that they can be enjoyed again in the future. Responsible book ownership is a lesson that clearly takes time to master. In the interim, a well-loved book can develop into a type of interactive art piece that reflects a child’s personality and energy.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is particularly loved by both Sunboy and Flowergirl. Perhaps their affinity for the book lies in my enthusiastic intonation when I exclaim “He was a beautiful butterfly!” They have each destroyed the book with their love of it in their own unique way. In fact, when Flowergirl was born, I didn’t want to share Sunboy’s copy with her. The manner in which Sunboy modified the book held such memories of his toddlerhood for me that I didn’t want another toddler altering it further, even if that toddler was his younger sister. Besides, Sunboy’s copy lost its cover during its reading adventures and the part where the caterpillar gets a tummyache. Flowergirl soon decided that the hungry caterpillar turned into half of a beautiful butterfly, and half of a very fat caterpillar.
Mr Brown Can Moo by Dr Seuss is another beloved book in our home. It was the first favorite book of both children. I felt fine with Mr Brown enjoying the cumulative effects of multiple toddler’s enjoyment. The book is like a museum displaying the effects of thousands of reads, each tear and crease precious to me. Dibble dibble dibble dibble dopp dopp dopp!
I treasure books with softened and rumpled pages and weakened spine. These books hold the memories of being read. They encapsulate a cherished time in my children’s lives when they were first learning to love books and the magic they hold within. Some books come alive more than others. Goodnight noises everywhere.