August 30, 2012

Reading Rite of Passage

I think a lot about how few rites of passage our kids have in the modern world and how few chances we get to celebrate them and honor their development.  I often ask friends if they have built rites of passage in to their family life and what they are because I'm always looking for more way to add meaning and a sense of progress into the kids' lives.  It seems like the best way to combat the seemingly inevitable prolonged adolescence that our culture is plagued by.  If you have some meaningful rites in your family, I'd love to hear about them.

In our family, we only have a few major ones.  But one simple, seemingly minor rite of passage is the choosing of a fancy bookmark when they read their first chapter book.  Sounds silly, and I hadn't even recognized it as a rite of passage until Hunter was half way through his first ever chapter book, Bears on Hemlock Mountain, and said, "Hey, don't we get to go pick out a fancy book mark when we start reading chapter books?  Hannah did."  I hadn't realized how much my language when I explained why Hannah Jane was the only one who got to pick out a bookmark at the big bookstore years ago had stuck with Hunter and created something that he has apparently been looking forward to for a good long time.

So before Haven's piano lessons we popped into Hastings and headed straight for the big bookmark display.  I cringe at the very thought of paying $3 for a bookmark, but obviously this was a big deal for him and Hunter, being sandwiched between 2 academic whiz kids, deserves a little confirmation and recognition once in a while.

It was a special moment.  Hannah Jane and Haven stood back, waiting anxiously to see what he would choose.  He whirled the carousel around many times, running his hands across different book marks, feeling the silky tassels on the top, turning the holographic ones side to side to watch the pictures move.   He was torn between a fat Batman bookmark from the recently released movie and a holographic bookmark with humming birds sipping nectar from bright red flowers.

We were all a bit surprised to see him go with humming birds.  He was so happy with his selection, holding it out in front of him, tilting it back and forth to watch the birds hover as we walked to the register.  It was surprisingly sweet watching him climb into the van and carefully place it in his spot in the book.  During piano lessons we sit and read in the teacher's living room.  While we were reading, Hunter said, "Mom, can you hold my bookmark while I read so nothing happens to it?"  I showed him how I stick my bookmarks in the back of my book while I read and then move them back when I'm done.  He thought this was the most ingenious thing ever.  If he had had the authority to issue me a Nobel Prize for this discovery, I'm certain he would have.  LOL!

So now I guess this is our reading rite of passage.  A bookmark that isn't a post-it note or an index card for those who can read chapter books.  Hanna Jane still has hers.  A dolphin painting bookmark with a ceramic bead shaped like a dolphin hanging from the tassels.  We bought it from the very same carousel that we bought Hunter's from.  Haven insists that he too can read a chapter book, but has yet to make any real effort to stick with one for more than a couple of pages.  I imagine we'll be making Haven's trip to Hastings in the next year or so, but for now, he wants a bookmark more than he actually wants to read a chapter book.


  1. This is the sweetest post ever. :-)

  2. I love this! What a great rite of passage, and I love that he was the one who remembered and initiated it. Congratulations, Hunter!

  3. Thanks! He doesn't let me forget much! LOL!


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