Monday, 30 May 2011

Bedtime Stories

One of my most favourite things in the world are books!  I LOVE books!  I love the look of them, the feel of them, even the smell of them (and yes, I always give my new books a good whiff before I read them).  I LOVE the smell of paper and ink . . . .mmmm, heavenly bliss.  But my most favourite thing about books is not the sensational sensory experiences they provide nor is it what you find inside of them: the ideas, the characters, and the images, but rather it is the memories they create and the bonds they forge with those who share them.  So, as you can imagine, reading books before bed is a pretty big deal in my house. In fact, our lack of bedtime reading, while I was working full-time, was one of the critical factors in my decision to return to life as a stay-at-home mom.  Growing up, my dad, in particular, always read stories to us before bed, and literature is such a huge part of being a Skov that I wanted to share it with my children.  Now, you have to know my father, he was not one for "children's books". Most people grew up with Archie comics as their toilet reads, but not the Skovs, we had "The Nietzsche Reader".  I kid you not!  Oh, the things one can learn as they are enjoying their daily poo!  As a very young child, I still remember him reading "The Hobbit" to my sister, Hilary, and I before bed.  I don't remember how young I was, but I was young enough to be terrified!  In fact, I slept cocooned beneath my blankets for years after because I could have sworn that hobbits were peaking around my bedroom door, waiting for me to go to sleep.  I now know that hobbits are very friendly creatures.  I mean, come on, anyone who eats second breakfast and thirdsy lunches is pretty awesome in my opinion; but to a mere child, short, hairy-footed creatures who chum around with dwarfs and wizards are a little freaky.

Even today, the first thing out of my father's mouth when he sees one of his chillin's is "what are you reading?".  Well, maybe more so now with my younger siblings because, when I think about it, he seemed to have stop taking an interest in my book affairs once I developed a slight obsession for young adult fiction.  Hmmm?  Oh, and did I tell you my dad is a HUGE book snob?  Or perhaps, the "Nietzsche Reader" gave it away . . . Tee hee!

Here's Papa Skov working hard at the newspaper.  He even looks like a book snob!
If you want to see my dad in action, just tell him that universities are now putting "Twilight" on their reading lists.  I dare ya!  But if you do, remember to tuck and roll because it's gonna get a whole lot ugly!  Tee hee . . . I love ya, Kurty!

Anyhoo, back to bedtime stories.  Since my children were very young, remember colicky Elliot and his fascination with the Brontes, I have read to them, and books have become cherished items in our house.  In fact, tonight, I asked the boys to pick a picture book out before I started to read them a chapter from "The Hobbit" (I know! I know! But, there are some rites of passage all children must experience and this is one of them if you are part Skov), they grabbed "Where Did All the Dragons Go?". 

As soon as I picked it up, a flood of memories washed over me.  This was one of Elliot's FAVOURITE books when he was a toddler.  It was out of print at the time, so we had to continuously renew it from the library.  He was obsessed!  We searched everywhere to find a copy for him.  I even contemplated stealing it from the library . . . . GASP!  Kidding!  But, thankfully, aunt Hilary, the librarian, found a copy on EBay from a library in the States that was selling it.  Thank heavens because I think I could have paid off my student loans with the money I was paying in late fees!  It is still one of our favourites, and will definitely be one of the books I keep to share with my grandbabies someday.

Another one of Elliot's book obsessions was "Piggie Pie". 

We found it in our playgroup's library and we were on the perpetual renewal plan for this one too until I happened to find it at our favourite bookstore, "Benjamin's Books".  This is a fantastic read-aloud book because it is repetitive and rhythmic, and the reader automatically adopts a distinctive voice for Gritch the Witch. This one never gets old, and trust me, we still read it about once a week.

Avery's all-time favourite is "Curious George".  Surprise!  I see no similarities between Avery and a monkey with a natural penchant for shenanigans.  How about you?  Tee hee!

When Zoe was a little girl, and I was attending university part-time, I would always visit the school's bookstore in between classes and pick us up a new book to share.  These are some of our favourites:

I remember coming home from school, and the two of us would curl up on the couch and read our new book.  She always sat in my lap, and would ALWAYS ask me to read it, again and again.  She particularly liked "The Paper Bag Princess" because, in the end, the Princess says to Ronald "your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat.  You look like a real prince, but you are a bum!".  She would laugh and laugh.  I wonder if she still thinks all boys are bums?  Hmmm . . . probably not!

In our house, the most treasured books are the ones that can be read-aloud with ease and the ones which lend themselves nicely to absurd voices or accents, like these ones:

I dare you to read Skippyjon Jones without a Spanish accent.  It's impossible!  This series is another one of Avery's favourites.  It's about a little boy kitty who always finds himself in a heap of shenanigans.  Hmmm . . .   I'm picking up on a theme here with Avery's book interests?  The more shenanigans the better!

But the all-time best bedtime book is:

This is my ultimate favourite children's book to read aloud!  It is awesome!  I used to read it to myself as a kid (remember the book snob and his poopoo on children's literature . . . just kidding, dad!), to my younger sister and brother, John and Emily, to the tons of children I used to babysit, and now to my own wee ones.  It never gets old watching poor Grover fight against the reader to stop them from turning the page.  In fact, this book is so good that they have made a sequel to it with Elmo and Grover, which we have but I could not find.  Please read them to your kids!  They're a hoot!

Now, I cannot wrap up my nod to bedtime stories without acknowledging this Skov favourite:

This is mama Skov's favourite book, and we used to make her read it to us because she can't get through it without crying.  We found this hilarious, and we ridiculed her something terrible for it!  She always said: "just you wait until you're a mom.  You will understand then".  But we thought she was crazy!  How could someone find a creepy old woman, who sneaks into her adult son's room at night to cradle him in her arms, touching?  Well, my mom did have the last laugh because, recently, while I was reading the story to my own boys, I burst into tears and could not go on.  They were dumbfounded, and like my sister and I did so many years ago, they laughed and laughed. 

Like so many traditions that our parents started when we were kids, bedtime stories can often be overlooked and undervalued.  When I asked the boys why they enjoy having stories read to them each night, they replied "because going to sleep is pretty boring and what else are you going to do?".  For Zoe, it is simply a way to put off bedtime a bit longer.  But, it is so much more than that!  Think of the laughs we have shared, the voices we have created, the snuggles we have snuck, and the memories we have made.  THIS IS THE BEST PART OF OUR DAY!!  And finding myself unable to get through to them, like my own mom so many years ago, I simply said, "just wait until you are a parent.  You will understand then".


  1. Great Blog, you missed one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

  2. Krista Skov-Nielsen31 May 2011 at 16:14

    I forgot about that one!