“Read it!” Jet demands, patting the back cover of the book we have just finished.
“Oh, you want me to read it again? How do you ask Grandma nicely?” I smile.
“Pweese!” she says immediately, and it does sound very, very nice.
“Okay,” I sigh. “Pup cup. Pup in Cup. Cup pup. Cup on Pup.” Hop on Pop is currently Jet’s favorite book. She has an abridged board book version at home, but Grandma has the full “I Can Read” story.
I’ve been reading this book aloud to children for nearly 45 years. I can quote all of it, but not necessarily in the right order. Jet, however, often knows exactly what comes next. Sometimes she says it before can I turn the page. She starts saying “No, Pat, no! Don’t sit on that!” as soon as Pat starts to sit on his hat.
Jet also anticipates that Grandma will add a couple of embellishments. “All tall. They all are tall,” I read. “All small. They all are small,” comes next. I raise my tone a couple of octaves to suit the tiny speakers. Jet feigns a “small” voice right along with me. When we get to “Thing sing, that thing can sing.” I always sing the line. “Song long, a long, long song,” gets a drawn-out note at the end. Jet doesn’t sing because she wants to be ready to say “Goodbye,” at the next line: “Goodbye thing, you sing too long!” We remember the words again later: “Walk, walk, we like to walk,” Jet and I chant as we start down the driveway.
Reading aloud to a child costs nothing but time and I can think of no better way to spend it. From this one book, Jet learns about anticipation, humor, words, cadence, rhyming and imagination. She learns that each person who reads it has a different interpretation. She learns that things can be very similar, but different.
We’ve also been marathon reading an old board book call Corduroy’s Day. “Good morning!” the book begins, “Here is one bear called Corduroy,” and so on up to ten. I thought I might try the full story with Jet for a change of pace. This was for my benefit, you understand, not Jet’s. She is perfectly happy with 2 buttons, three favorite breakfast items, 4 trucks, etc. She recognized Corduroy immediately and gave the book her complete attention.
In the book, the bear spots a mattress button and thinks it may be the one missing from his overalls. He tries to pull it off, but it is tied down tight. Then, suddenly it pops loose and the bear goes flying. The next day, Jet spotted the buttons on my tufted ottoman, and connected them with the story. Eventually, Grandma was able to convince her that these buttons are not to be removed. Yesterday, she had some Teddy Grahams for her snack. I had never noticed how much they look like Corduroy. Jet did. Turns out, if you hold them in your hand just right, two little ears poke up, just like when Corduroy hides under the covers!
Don Freeman is the author of Corduroy and Cordurory’s Day.
Hop on Pop was written by Dr. Seuss. I am not at all surprised that it has its own Wikipedia page.
All three books are still available for purchase.