Papa, Read Me a Story

Royal Library of San Lorenzo in Madrid, Spain

Books, books, books! Shown here the Royal Library of San Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Reading to my grandson brings back memories of reading stories to my daughters when they were young. I read to them from the time they were born just to have words and sounds to share with them. As they grew, I chose stories I knew they would love that they would not be able to read on their own, starting with J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit. Each night before bed we would read a new chapter. As the story unfolded they got to where they could hardly wait for bedtime!

Daughter #1 now has a son. Like his mommy, he loves books.

Daughter #1 now has a son. Like his mommy, he loves books.

When we finished The Hobbit, they were sort of disappointed. It was like we had shared something special that had come to an end. What they did not know was I had C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe waiting on the bookshelf. In what seemed like no time at all we had gone through all six books of The Chronicles of Narnia. I found out years later that my oldest daughter kept this collection. Now that she has a son, one of my favorite pastimes is reading to him. He loves stories and books, and I always bring him gifts of books I think he will like. From a young age, it was music to my ears when he would say to me at bedtime, “Papa Mike, read me a story.”

My grandson is growing up so fast. He started 1st grade this year.

My grandson is growing up so fast. He started 1st grade this year.

At an early age my grandson became fascinated with stories about the Titanic. He repeatedly watched the National Geographic video about Dr. Robert Ballard and his mission to discover the shipwreck. He committed so much detail to memory that he could lecture to an oceanography class about the challenges of deep sea exploration. So I got him a copy of James Steele’s Queen Mary, a technical history of the storied ocean liner, knowing that he might one day actually set foot aboard this ship if his travels include a stop in Long Beach, California.

This week I started reading him a new story via Skype™, Douglas Floen’s Knowing Noah: The Adventures of a Mouse Who Could Read. I realize each time I talk with him how much brighter, more communicative, and more knowledgeable he is compared to our previous conversation. As he becomes more sophisticated and more his own person, I also feel myself loving him and missing him more than ever.

Grandson #2 will soon be ready for storybooks!

Grandson #2 will soon be ready for storybooks!

It is a fact of life that living and traveling abroad puts great distance between loved ones. It is that connection that prevents some people from ever venturing far from home. It is the little things like sharing stories with grandchildren that enrich our lives and create bonds that last a lifetime.  So when we connect via Skype™ and he says those words to me, “Papa, read me a story,” it brings me back to a time many years ago when I shared something special with my girls.  And soon, it will be my grandson’s turn to hear The Chronicles of Narnia.  I can hardly wait.

living in Mexico

28 comments on “Papa, Read Me a Story

  1. IdenticalTwinge says:

    This really resonated with me as we currently live in a different country than both sets of grandparents. What a clever idea to read to your grandchild via Skype! While I’m not sure my parents and in-laws are as tech savvy as you, perhaps we can still make it work. Beautiful post and what a great gift you’ve given your family in the form of sweet bedtime memories!

    • I think lots of grandparents would be excited to read to the grandkids from afar. If they need tech assistance, just have them invite any neighbor kid at least age 9 to come set up their computer with Skype and demonstrate how it works. 🙂
      Thank you for sharing your sweet comments.

  2. Angeline says:

    What wonderful memories, and what wonderful new ones you are creating. My husband and I wrestle with the idea of moving out of the country in a couple of years because of our grandchildren that live close by. This idea helps.

    • The technology of today makes possible so much more in a connected way than anything we ever imagined when I was growing up. I know that makes me sound old, but I’m really not. The technology is that new! Thank you for commenting.

  3. jo-schindler says:

    This is a touchng entry for me. I have just had the last of grandchildren leave me for distances farther than I can afford the travel to go see and them. It is so hard to see them leave, but I know it is important to let them go and experience the world from another perspective. They have opportunities they wouldn’t get here in the small town we live. I am sad for me but happy for them. I have the set up for skype that I am using for a daughter-in-law to be from the Phillippines. I can use for them. You sound like a wonderful father, and my husband will be so impressed with what you have read to your grandchildren.

    Thank you for reading my blog “I have Moved On” and commenting on it so that I could see that someone was reading them. It is much appreciated. (QuilterJo)

  4. ShruTroup says:

    Beautiful words. I know what you mean by living far away from family. I have lived in the US for 12 years now and my grandparents, parents and brother still live in India. I see them once a year but it is never enough. Every year, I want to see them more and more. Technologies like Skype have made it better but it can’t replace the physical contact.
    Your grandsons are so cute and smart! Thank you for sharing!

  5. BEAUTIFUL!! Reminds me of the soldiers serving abroad who read to their kids at night via Skype… lovely post Mike. 🙂

  6. mkesling63 says:

    kids are great. They are fun.

  7. Reading to children is a wonderful thing! My 4th grade teacher read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” to our class. It got me hooked on reading which has served me well in life. It’s great that you’re connecting with your grandchildren as well as inspiring them by reading to them.

    • I was fortunate to have a teacher in junior high who read Shakespeare to us! Good thing, too, because who would read “Merchant of Venice” on their own? Elizabethan English sounded beautiful when she spoke it. I never forgot that.

      I was a member of a Storytelling Guild for ten years, and I learned methods for bringing stories to life, i.e. – using gestures, facial expressions and sounds, and using different voices for the characters. I do that for my grandson, too. Now I am the grandpa who tells stories. I kind of like that distinction.

      • You were very fortunate indeed! I’m wondering, however; if you were able to appreciate it in junior high? I think I would have been bored out of my mind by Shakespeare at that age. I can just imagine my friends and me making fun of the language at recess.

      • Some students in our English class may have thought Shakespeare was weird, but I was captivated. I was also motivated to get A’s in school, so I probably appreciated what we were being taught more than most.
        My father motivated me by paying six months of car insurance every time I came home with straight A’s. I credit him for my graduating in the top 5% of my class and being awarded a college scholarship.

  8. Melissa says:

    I love this, Dad. Such good memories, old and new 🙂

    • Ah honey, your comment is as sweet as the memories. Thank you!

      • Melissa says:

        I also wanted to let you know how great and special I think it is that Cody wants to slow down and take time out of his busy 6 year old life full of school, friends, video games, TV and NASCAR so his papa can read to him, whether its here or all the way from Mexico. 🙂

  9. throve says:

    Sharing the love of reading, how wonderful. I used to love going to the library on a Saturday morning when I was little for the story reading time. I would sit in wonder. The reader was usually Margret Mahy, a well known children’s author, she would dress up for it too. It was wonderful. Thank you for reminding me.
    I still go to libraries. Madrid might have to be on my list to visit. What a beautiful one.

    • When my children came to learn the magical stories hidden in books they were hooked, and of course they still love to read. That is perhaps the greatest gift I could give them. I thank you for sharing your comments.

  10. blade3colorado says:

    When I was young, my grandfather took me to San Francisco Giants baseball games and I learned how to read by perusing every word of the “sporting green” of the Chronicle (so named because it was printed on green newspaper). Although, I read many children books as an adolescent, for some reason I never had an opportunity to read Tolkein’s Trillogy, nor The Hobbit. Depraved? Ha. Fast forward well into my 40s, I finally was introduced to the trilogy series and was enthralled (albeit, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this mystical fictional world the first 30 or so pages). Like your son, I was crestfallen when I completed the 3 novels. I WANTED MORE!

    Great post that brought me back to my childhood and my grandfather – who by the way came to the United States from Salamanca, Spain in the 1920s. I visited Madrid, Salamanca and the village he was born at in the mid 1970s. I was amazed at what I saw . . . This was immediately following the dictator, Franco’s death and the people (my relatives and those I was introduced to while there) were overcome with joy, such was the hardship that all Spaniards suffered under this despot.

    It saddens me that Spain’s economy is not doing well and unemployment is so high. Hopefully, this will change in the future. Again, thank you for sharing.


    • Thanks for taking the time to comment while on your epic journey. I am pleased to have stirred such great memories. And there is nothing wrong with learning to read via the Sports Page, especially that it was a connection made with your grandfather.
      I will be in Spain next year. I hope to make it to Salamanca. So many great cities in a country about the same size as Oregon. Buen Viaje, Steve!

  11. Skype is wonderful isn’t it? How wonderful you can live far away and maintain a close relationship with your family. Great blog !

    • At first it was kind of strange. My grandson is not a sit-down quietly type of child. However, he loves stories, and now every Sunday evening before bed is story time for up to an hour. In fact, now that he is into the story of Noah, The Mouse Who Could Read, he asked that we add Thursday to the reading schedule so he would not have to wait so long to find out what happens. Also, his mother likes the story time, too, because he is settled and ready for bed at the end of our reading session.
      Thank you for sharing your kind comments.

  12. hopesquires says:

    My mom read The Chronicles of Narnia (and many other books) to my brother and me on road trips. Thanks for stirring up a wonderful memory, and enjoy the memories you’re making with your grandchildren!

  13. reocochran says:

    I just reread this and realize I never commented, why did I “like” it if I didn’t share a comment? Not sure but I have always loved reading and believe it can start while baby is in vitro and then, the singsong of nursery rhymes and pictures captivate the youngest of babies. Your experiences with your children, now carried into the next generation, are priceless. My Dad read such diverse books as mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Winnie the Pooh. He also liked his fantasies and science fiction. “A Wrinkle in Time” was one he read to my children, along with the summer of “Dune.” Such value in having a male voice and how wonderful! Having been a sixth grade Language Arts teacher, reading after lunch was my daily routine. I still remember how some of the students wrote me when I moved, their saying the chapter books, especially “The Yearling” inspired them to read more.

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