‘Tis the season for great books
The dim light and faint murmur of a young girl’s voice testing her vocabulary set the mood for a quiet evening of reading – a mother-daughter outing filled with books and quality time.
Shantelle Smith, 7, nuzzled up to her mother, Sandra, on the floor of the El Dorado County Library on Rufus Allen Boulevard. The reading area begged for a rocking chair.
Such is the case for family reading time in the winter – especially around the holidays when the idea of reading lyrical phrases like “sugar plums danced in their heads” can’t be fully grasped on television.
“Everybody has a computer now, so it seems like people don’t come here as much. But the time I sit down with her and turn the TV off – that’s our quiet time. It means as much to me as it does to her,” Smith said. “It’s more stimulating for her. And we read more in the winter. It’s dark at 5:30.”
The Sierra House Elementary student appeared curious about the children’s Christmas books put out on display at the library, grabbing the book, “Lucy and Tom’s Christmas” because it was different and the cover intrigued her.
That’s the prerequisite of any book that leaves a lasting mark on her daughter.
“Kids learn through visualization. That’s the way I learned a lot of words,” Smith said.
The library also displayed “The First Night, Christmas Trees, Christmas Bear” and “On Christmas Day” on the reading table – alongside the classics like “The 12 Days of Christmas.” They’re popular around Christmas every year, library management said.
Smith said the “Nutcracker” is still one of her favorites as the magnitude of the story stands the test of time.
For Di Bitzer, it was ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” she sought Sunday. She nabbed the last one at Neighbors Bookstore and clutched it as if it were gold.
“Do you know this was hard to find? I went all over the (Carson Valley). Target didn’t even have any books out in the kids’ section,” the South Lake Tahoe woman said.
Bitzer intends to count down to Christmas Day by reading a holiday book to her girls every night. She’s read to her 14-month-old twin daughters for almost a year.
“This will be our Christmas tradition. This is important to us. I don’t want their first choice of what to pick up to be a toy,” she said. “And they love to read.”
She further explained the pictures and the inflection of her voice keeps her daughters interested in the printed version of stories like “The Polar Express” instead of the big-screen variety. The Tom Hanks movie is a 20-year-old story.
Cindy Crook, Sierra Bookshop assistant manager, said there’s no reason to rely on the movies to get a story’s visualization. And more and more books are illustrated with pop-up pictures.
“The way they illustrate these books now is incredible,” she said.
Crook believes the experience of family reading time is important because it slows down an otherwise fast-paced world where cognitive thought may be limited to a classroom.
The bookstore at the “Y” brought out a slew of children’s holiday classics for its window displays – from C.S. Lewis’ “The World of Narnia” to “The M&Ms Christmas” with 1,000 hidden objects in the pictures.