My daughter is really extending her ability to sit and listen to a chapter book, so on of the things I have really looked forward to is emerging. My family made the choice to not have a TV, and in those days, there was no computer or smart phone or other device to deliver video. I was a child during the advent of VCRs and video game consoles. One of my best friends had an Atari and cable, so sleep overs there were late night TV and Pong. Another friend hosted me on sleep overs so we could wake up and watch cartoons. I got exposure, but it was in limited doses. I resented it at the time but am so thankful now for that particular choice.
Books were the world I lived in, and I was surrounded by them at home. We had towering bookcases that my dad built (with his children’s help), and the public library was a block away. One of the greatest pleasures I have is talking about, reading, and sharing children’s books. The picture books and early readers have been fine, but now we are entering the area of real plot and character development.
My upbringing did not feature a great deal of religion. We had the trappings of both Judaism and Christianity, a menorah and a Christmas tree, dyed eggs and matzos, through my father’s and mother’s different backgrounds, but we did not attend church or synagog. My wife, however, was raised observant, and we are attempting to do the same with our children.
These two different strands of thought merged beautifully in the memory of a book we had in my house as a child, so I requested it from the library and picked it up a few days ago at the branch just across the street from our house. The All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor feature a family that has five daughters and is set in the early 1900s in New York. They are a Jewish family, but the inclusion of Judaism is natural and intermixed with what living in New York at the turn of the last century was like. The chapters stand alone as their own stories, and are just the right length for my daughter to digest. I loved these books, and it seems like my daughter is beginning to like them, as well. She asked me, “When do we have to return this book?” with the unasked statement being, “I don’t want to return the book.”