There are several things you can always count on here at Dreamcatcher Ranch when the month is May. These include Summer weather, Spring pollen and ANTS! It seems no matter how hard we fight them, those ants are more determined than we are and we lose the fight.
Last week, however, I got a new perspective on ants from my three-year-old grandson. He actually seems to like them! At the least, he finds them very interesting. During our visit, we checked out online information and videos and talked about the little critters. I couldn’t help but tell him the story of Two Bad Ants, written by Chris Van Allsburg. It’s one of my favorite books that tells about ants coming into a home. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the book with me, so I just told the story of how a couple of ants lingered behind in the sugar bowl while the other, more disciplined ants, carried their treasure out of the house. The entire story is told from the perspective of the ants and it was difficult to get the real effect without the pictures. Yet, my grandson was intrigued.
Tonight, I decided to dig out that book and take with me on my next grandmotherly expedition. At first I couldn’t find it. That meant I had to dig through the many picture books housed in my closet and that’s when I realized. Those books were my old friends. I touched worn copies of Winnie, the Witch, Roxaboxen, Rabbit and the Moon, The Last Dance and other familiar works. My reaquaintance with them didn’t even require page turning as the memories flooded back from the mere sight of them.
I could tell you that I read these to my own children, but that wouldn’t be right. I read these to teachers and university students in my classes. No workshop with me was complete without story time after lunch. While some thought this was silly, others looked forward to this part of our day. I usually told, rather that read, the story as I showed the pictures. At times I used a prop or two such as the shawl I wore in various ways for The Last Dance. I not only remember the stories, but I remember the people and the situations wherein I used them. Those books are like little capsules of my past that hold more than I ever realized until this evening.
Lest you think I neglected my own children, I should tell you that the pages of other books like Drummer Hoff and Where the Wild Things Are have well worn pages as well from our family sharing. I’ll bet my adult son can still recite most of the verses in Drummer Hoff.
I believe in this new period of publishing where many books are ready electronically, but wonder what will remain from these to help hold the memories of sharing books with others. My hope is that we will always share real copies of picture books and that these will be passed from one generation to the next as treasured gifts, not just relics. For now, I’m just anxious to share with another little person . . . hand-on.