My son and I have begun reading Peter Pan before bedtime. This is my attempt to have him exposed to great literature and use his imagination. A great added perk is the wonderful conversation which has spun out of it and all the questions he is now asking. His patience for listening has become quite impressive and he rarely interrupts any more, content to just listen and ask his questions later.
I would like to clarify that we aren't talking Disney. There is a great dislike within me for how much Disney steals, rewrites, waters down, and generally simplifies leaving so little left of substance. I enjoy the animated movies as much as the next guy (and some of the music is incredibly well done), but I don't feel that having a child watch Pocahontas or Beauty and the Beast does the actual tales any justice whatsoever. Alright, I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.
The beginning of the story is a bit convoluted for younger children, but I think the idea of having to give the book a chance is important. Sometimes it is the first hundred pages you have to diligently plod through, not just the first twenty-three. At any rate he hung in there till Peter showed up to have his shadow stitched back on and is thoroughly entranced at this point.
Taking the time to spend a good thirty minutes or more in the evening just sitting next to him and sharing a story is a simple pleasure we rarely engaged in before. By the time he was to go to bed, I was more looking forward to personal time than thinking about the opportunity we were passing up. It wasn't until we learned of the need to homeschool him next year (his birthday misses the cut off by 4 days and the district turned down our appeal) that I decided it was necessary to begin actively engaging him in literature. We have gone to the library for quite some time now, and he reads almost completely without aid, but I mean real literature; time-honored, classic books. It has turned into a real bonding experience for us and hopefully something he will fondly remember when he is older.
Peter Pan is an enchanting story so entrancing to children and adults alike it has become embedded in our culture. The best part, for me as a parent, is now re-reading the story and finding so much of the language deeply poignant and touching. The whimsy and mystical approach to which it is written are things that might fly completely over his head right now, but I hope will stick in his mind somewhere if only to give lingering wonder to other aspects of the world.
Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder. (pg. 22)
Perhaps in reading to my son at night, I can rub away some of my glassy eyes and re-instill a little wonder in myself.