One day, when Frances was about 18 months old, she took hundreds of children’s books off a set of shelves in the living room and stood on top of the haphazard pile to get more.
She sometimes lined the entire house with a path of books that encompassed the dining room table and led back to the front room.
From the time that she was seven months old, she perused books with an unusual intensity and focus.
As a toddler, she would push a book into my abdomen or my neck or my hands and say, “Read!”
By the time she was 2.5 years old, I was reading stacks and stacks of books to her daily (usually 20 but as many as 30 or 40 at times).
At the library, where most parents might be encouraging their children to choose books, I was popping throat lozenges and encouraging her to go play just so that I could give my voice a rest.
She cried if books got damaged in the tiniest way. She protested loudly if anyone had written their name inside a book. If she became angry with me, she would threaten that we would no longer be able to visit my favourite bookstore.
She always had a book in her hand (for comfort, I assume).
The local bookstore knew us so well that Frances was allowed to take a book and read under a table where she wouldn’t be disturbed.
When Frances is reading is pretty much the only time (besides sleeping) that it is quiet in our house — the ONLY TIME.
She’s a nonstop talker with a more-than-average amount of energy and bounce in her running steps.
The other day, after school, there was a prolonged period of quiet (say, five minutes). It was very noticeable which could only mean that she was reading. Then, I heard her say to herself:
“This book is not very instructive on drawing horses.”
I knew that, within a minute or so, the house would be virtually alive again with the sound of her chatter and laughter and objects banging around again as she searched for something that she absolutely needed.