In these weeks and months of waiting for our baby to arrive, I have been busy assembling a bookshelf (among other things) for her. I am determined to have a solid library of titles waiting for her the day she comes home. Tonight, I added a new book to that shelf that I am SO excited about. Perhaps “new” is a misleading term. It is actually very well worn from many decades of use. It has passed through countless hands. It is only new in the sense that it just found a home on her shelf tonight. For all its age and use, however, it is an absolute treasure in my eyes.
The book is called Tuntuni the Tailor Bird, written by Betsy Bang and illustrated by the great Molly Bang. It is an adaptation of a Bengali folktale that was published in 1978 when I was just a year old. Somewhere along the way, a copy was obtained by the public library in Marshfield and I was lucky enough to have my mother bring it home one day. It quickly became a favorite. Not just any favorite, but the favorite! Today, as a grown up, the story itself is nothing too earth-shattering. It tells about a tailor bird who has a thorn in his foot and the barber refuses to take it out. This sets him off on a mission to find someone who will get revenge on the barber for not helping him. In the second tale, Tuntuni the tailor bird plays clever tricks on the Raja. I don’t know if it was the story, or the illustrations, or the sounds of the characters and their voices… but there is no doubt that I loved this book as a toddler. As I grew older, the memory of studying this book for endless nights began to mean more to me. I eagerly tracked down a used copy and made sure to keep it secure. I kept it safe for this very day… the day when I could pass it on to my own child.
Will my daughter love little Tuntuni as deeply as I did? I have no idea. Maybe she will, maybe she won’t. For me, however, there is a unique joy in this. It adds a special element to reading time with my baby. I am not just sharing a book and a story, but a part of my past. My hope is she will smile a little wider knowing that the story we read together is the same one my Mom read to me when I was her age. It is one more slice of my own life I can pass on to her. Beyond any personal enjoyment of the story, I believe she will at least come to appreciate that gift as she gets older. And who knows, perhaps one day she will read the story of Tuntuni to her own child, as well.
Think back to your own childhood. What was that favorite story that you adored? Odds are you can still get it today, new or used. Track it down, pick it up, and give your child this personal gift of literacy that is tied directly to your heart and memory. You will bring your child further into the world of literacy. You will give him/her a deeper understanding of your past. And as you read each page together, I am confident you will never, ever regret it.
If you have a favorite book/story from your childhood and you already share it with your son/daughter,
please let us know with a comment!
Remember… you can enjoy this type of sharing with a reader of ANY age level!