“Read to me some of what you’re reading,” my not-quite-three-year-old would say at bedtime.
When she first asked, I thought that I would seize the opportunity to read something that she would find boring enough to fall asleep to while listening: Virgil’s Aeneid.
Unfortunately, as I read on and on, she grew interested in it. She’d actually foiled my plan to induce sleep by epic poem.
“Okay,” I thought to myself. “If I’m going to read something to her, I may as well read something that interests me.”
At first, I started reading T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, but once The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock popped into my head, I abandoned the longer poem in favour of Prufrock.
To my utter surprise, she loved it. She asked questions; she asked me to repeat words and to repeat lines and to repeat stanzas. I read through it more than once that night — then, I read it to her every night for years.
I wrote down many of her statements and questions about the poem — here are a few.
April 29, 2012 (5 years old):
Me: ‘Am not Prince Hamlet…nor was meant to be.’
Frances: I think he is lying; I think he IS the prince.
Me: Do you mean that he is more like those people than he realizes?
April 16, 2013 (5 years old):
Frances: Who is he talking to? Maybe a princess who is about to be married?
August 24, 2013 (6 years old):
Frances: Are there other voices, other songs of Prufrock?