I’m not sure when it happened, but it was confirmed this past Christmas. We have moved past the toys on the wish list. My (not so) littles were hoping for things that supported their dreams–like dance and games and shoes. My little fella asked for a pair of Crocs (easy to slide on and off and APPARENTLY back in fashion?!?) and books. When I asked him what books–was there a series or author he preferred, he said “No ma’am, surprise me. I always love what you pick out.”
As they were excitedly planning what gifts they wanted to give each other, I was scratching my head about what books to suggest to Santa to bring for him. My little guy Cooter who didn’t read a lick until he turned 7 is an avid reader–magazines, books, cereal boxes…..whatever he can get his hands on. He loves it when I grab a paper at the grocery store and bring home to him. He reads it front to back, with extra attention to politics, comics, and ads for trucks. And gas prices. He’s a fanatic about watching gas prices.
Christmas morning was a delight and joy as we shared love and gifts and laughter and memories. Cooter was intrigued by the book choices and said they looked promising. Last fall he read the young adult version of Just Mercy because his big sister had read the original version, and there was a movie coming out. He and his sister were fortunate to get to go to the advanced screening for the movie locally two days after Christmas. He came home saying the book and movie had changed his life. That moved me to tears because he has found a passion for justice and defeating wrong. When looking for books for him, I knew to stick with history and books that would fall in this same realm.
One night about a week or so after Christmas, I was locking up and turning off the lights, preparing to go to bed a little after midnight. Cooter has always been my child who goes to bed before everyone else. 10:30 is about the latest he can handle on the weekends, and he’s usually in bed way before that. The girls tend to be night owls in comparison. So I was surprised to see the light on underneath his door. I suspected he’d fallen asleep reading as he often does. When I opened the door, his face popped up from behind one of his Christmas books. Shocked, I asked, “Buddy, what are you doing? It’s after midnight!” His eyes got huge and he said, “What?! For real?” I recognized that look. I have been blessed to feel that more times than I can count in my life. He’d gotten so wrapped up in the story, he’d lost track of time completely.
After he recounted the story to me, I encouraged him to put it away and turned off his light. My heart was light and thankful. He seemed to struggle–or maybe it was me–when he was little and reading was on the agenda. He never seemed to be able to get what the letters in front of him were doing. Or I couldn’t help him understand. Until he turned 7. And then it clicked. For the past almost six years he’s been a voracious reader. I’m so very thankful for that. For his anger over injustice, for his love of funny books, for his need to read the stories from the past, for his desire to share the stories with me. This year we are using a literature based curriculum for his lessons, and he is loving it. Who knew when I was close to tears over his lack of drive to learn to read that we’d be where we were that night…..with his little face showing the shock of coming back to reality after being so lost in a really good book.
It all started with reading him good books when he was small.
Actually, that’s not true.
It started with my Mama reading me books when I was small. I never felt our lives lacking, no matter what we did or didn’t have, because we were always surrounded by good stories.
Mama passed that and so many of those good books down to us. I have shelves of her books that are blending with ours. Children’s books that are still brought down and pored over and read and left sitting out to remind us that we are never too far from that child in us who first delighted over the pictures and rhythm of a well-written story.
That’s why I’m happy that me and mine are never too old to enjoy a good children’s book. Especially since all of the ones by one of my favorite children’s authors have been published after my three have traditionally aged out of those books.
But we say we’re never too old to love one.
Matthew Paul Turner has a new book coming out tomorrow–When God Made the World. You need this book for your littles, your grands, your friends, your home, yourself! Like all of his books before, he uses words to paint a story that your heart longs to hear–how each part of creation was designed lovingly and with a purpose–including and especially YOU! The author leaves us with a blessing and a charge–words that I find myself praying over my children as they enter this new chapter in their lives.
I was talking to my sweet girl yesterday about her future and her dreams for it. She listened and responded and finally shrugged. “Mama, I’m just trying to figure out this being fifteen years old thing right now.”
Oh baby girl, I hear you. And I get it.
Sometimes–actually quite often–it’s good to sit and simply reflect with gentle words and remember the stories from when we were small. When God Made the World is just right for doing that. With rhymes and words that remind us to look around us in wonder and appreciate the gifts that God has put before us, paired with the lovely bright and vivid illustrations by Gillian Gamble, Matthew Paul Turner has given us the perfect book for those moments. He reminds us we are a part of a much bigger picture BUT a very important, precious, and unique part of it all.
The book releases tomorrow. If you pre-order TODAY, you can copy and paste your order number at this link and choose another of Matthew Paul Turner’s books to be sent to you ABSOLUTELY FREE. You don’t want to miss out on this. All of his books are wonderful and make great gifts. Or belong on your own shelf. Go ahead and treat yourself. I won’t tell.
Wishing you all some time today to get lost in a good book. Cooter and I highly recommend it.
Love to all.