As the absurdly proud aunt of exceptionally wonderful nephews—who we’ll call Fidge and Gus, because that is what I call them—I’ve actively made it my mission to get them to associate me with books. Fidge once told his “Aunt” Gabby that “Aunts read books” and made her read him bedtime stories. A few weeks after that, he unceremoniously announced his desire to go to bed by walking up to me and saying “You always read to me.” Why yes, Fidge, yes I do. Gus is a bit of a tougher sell—he’s rambunctious and not so fond of sitting still. But if he can interact with a book or laugh hysterically while “At” Lauren makes faces or yells or roars, he’s game. His biggest obsession is with Bill Cotter’s Don’t Push the Button, in which illicit button pushes lead to a whole host of multi-colored monsters named Larry. He now “reads” that one to himself, turning each page to intone “Don’t push a button!” and then…pushing that button anyway.
As Gus’s birthday is coming up, I headed out of town last weekend to celebrate it with the family. Naturally, I dragged Sharon to the bookstore with me last week to find some future favorites for him and settled on Press Here by Herve Tullet, I Am Otter by Sam Garton, and his autobiography The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee (which is really more for his parents). I read the books to both boys separately, and Gus especially loved Press Here, which was no surprise since it’s very similar to Don’t Push the Button. He’s also a fan of counting, so it suits him. He did seem to think The Boss Baby was pretty funny, but now I’m worried it might’ve given him ideas. And I Am Otter was definitely my favorite of the three.
But my favorite reading moment of the weekend was this one: in a crowded house full of family, with Gus trying to go to sleep in the bedroom, Fidge was clearly ready to wind down. Fortunately, aunts know what to do when you need a moment away from all the bustle. So I gathered up Gus’s new books and some old favorites and hunkered down in a Super Secret Hiding Spot under the dining room table with Fidge. We read through the above three plus Madeline and Wild About Books, one of his absolute favorites, since it’s got books AND animals AND ample opportunities for counting and guessing and finding hidden frogs. Not only did we get quiet time (where, according to Fidge at least, no one even knew where we were!), we also got to revisit old friends and make new ones.
I kind of miss Otter and Teddy, actually.