The Storytime Couch

Little did I know when I picked out and purchased the blue floral couch–the first piece of furniture I had ever selected and bought on my own–how important it would come to be in my family’s life.

It became the living room couch, giving that little used part of the house a splash of color and polish.

However, after my second and third children were born, it took on far greater significance in our family life. Because I was committed to reading individually to each of my children before bedtime, it became that most cherished of spaces–the storytime couch.

It was a place for enjoying nursery rhymes, counting and alphabet books, and folktales. It was where we read Maurice Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are, Barbara Berger‘s Grandfather Twilight, and Barbara Cooney‘s Miss Rumphious, and where we sang Tomie de Paola‘s Friendly Beasts each Christmas.

It was there I read the opening chapters of Lloyd Alexander‘s Book of Three three times to my oldest son until he was finally ready for a book without pictures and we read the whole series through to the end.

It was there my daughter and I read Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s Little House series from beginning to end. When we got to the last book, at the point where Laura leaves home to get married, I had to stop reading. Tears were pouring down my cheeks, and all I could think was, someday that will be my Gen leaving home. She finally had to read the rest of the chapter to me. I bought her the book as an engagement present.

My youngest son thrilled to the tales of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter on that blue couch, and the gentler enchantment of Edward Eager‘s Half-Magic Books.

And all of us, good Oregonians that we are, laughed ourselves silly over Beverly Cleary‘s books–Henry, Ribsy, Beezus, and Ralph. Even the boys loved Ramona.

My memories of the times shared on the storytime couch are ones I will cherish forever. Although it slowly became frayed, lost its uumph, and generally broke down, it was with a tear in my eye that I finally replaced it.

However, I can still see it, beautiful, blue, and new in my mind’s eye, and its spirit is celebrated each time my granddaughters come over and ask me to read them a story.

What about you? Do you have a special place where you like to read, be it quietly to yourself or with a loved one? Tell me about it, or better yet send a picture. And if there’s nothing like that in your life right now, consider creating a time and a space for reading with the ones you love.