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HOLLENBECK: 'Please read that story to me again and don't leave anything out'

March 19, 2012

Lucas, age 3, can “read.”
I know this is so because he read “Go Dog Go” to me the other night.
Of course I was already aware that this precocious grandchild was gifted in many ways, so his “reading” came as no surprise.
Truth be told — and I will if I must — Lucas has memorized this story, which is one of his favorites.
He reminded me of his cousin, Molly, now a high school sophomore, who frequently “read” “Brown Bear” to us as a 3-year-old.
“Bwown behr, bwown behr, what do you see? I see a wed burd looking at me,” and so on to the end of the delightful story.
She still had her Southern drawl at that time and it thrilled me to sit in on one of these sessions.
Fast forward to Lucas.
There seems little doubt that he will be literary since both of his parents are known for keeping several books going at a time, and there’s never been a time when Lucas wasn’t exposed to reading And, thankfully, I’ll say it here for all to see, my son and his wife are NOT part of the younger generation that ignores newspapers: Indeed both read them on a regular basis.
Lucas’ father — my son Allen — became addicted to books at an early age. I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t surrounded by his personal library. And nothing has changed to the present day.
One of his favorite stories as a young reader — and mine from reading it many times to him — was “Are You My Mother.” I still have a copy of it in my special book collection that’s displayed in my mother’s old secretary in our living room.
Books, of course, were always important to me. My parents and older cousins, Paula and Sissy, faithfully read to me.
We all know that children who are read to have a much better chance of becoming real readers later on.
I don’t remember reading Dr. Seuss books until my children came along, although these books were around during my childhood. We had Little Golden Books and other things, but the stories I wanted others to read to me — and this is out there, I know — were those included in “Wonder Woman” comic books.
Why these appealed to me so is anybody’s guess; I only know that I loved them.
(I’ve been accused of taking the character’s philosophy too much to heart and trying to BE a wonder woman, but that’s a whole other story.)
Like Lucas, I memorized these accounts. When he was tired, my father would try to skip over certain portions, but I never let him get by with it.
“No, Honey,” I’d tell him. (I never called him anything but Honey.) “You skipped the part about .... ,” I’d chastise him.
Never try to fool a kid. That’s the motto for all parents to live by because most of the time the child will catch the omission.
In time, I addressed the problem in advance.
I would preface my request to be read to with, “Honey, please read ‘Wonder Woman’ to me and be sure not to skip anything!”
He never turned down a request like that from his only child.
Sissy (nee Bettye Sue) recalled that I had the Wonder Woman accounts so committed to memory that I would announce when it was time to turn the page. I was a pushy kid.
Another favorite literary character for me was “Br’er Rabbit,” a central figure in the Uncle Remus stories about the Southern United States. This trickster rabbit succeeded by his wits rather than brawn, outsmarting authority figures and bending social mores as he saw fit.
The story of Br’er Rabbit, a contraction for “Brother Rabbit,” reportedly has been linked to both African and Cherokee cultures. Disney adapted the character for “Song of the South,” which became one of my favorite movies.
Later the stories were considered racially/politically unacceptable, but I loved the accounts of the rabbit’s cunning ways.
And of course they are special to me because they also were among the stories that Honey read to me.
I remember seeing “Song of the South” with him at James Theatre in Cotton Plant. And that’s another treasured memory.
In the meantime, I look forward to more accounts of “Go Dog Go” and other stories from Lucas’ lips. I recently gave him a book called (I think) “Five Monkeys In a Bed” (maybe not the exact title), which is a counting book.
I read it to him the other night, but I expect he’ll “read” it to me sometime soon.
Love those grandchildren!

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.
lyndahol@yahoo.com

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