CoverWhen I was a kid, I fell in love with The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Here’s the thing, I know I read the whole series. It was something they did in school. However, I can only vaguely remember any thing. Perhaps a glimmer of the premise. I’d looked at the first book a bit while I was writing The Journals of Bob Drifter.

I once bought the e-version of the first book in the series to read to one of my nieces, but she wasn’t quite old enough. But now the opportunity is here.

We were on vacation last weekend, and we’d forgotten to bring the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is what we normally read to our youngest. As soon as we realized we’d forgotten it, I had an idea:

“I have a book that I liked when I was a kid,” I said. “Would you like me to read that to you?”

I was afraid I’d get one page into it, and he’d get bored, again being perhaps too young to enjoy it. Now we’re three chapters in, and he’s excited to see what happens next.

I’ve always put a lot of stock into reading to children. First off, I love it. I read to my niece Saleah. I read to her younger brother, too, but I didn’t get as much time with that family as I did when Saleah was growing up. Some of the stuff I read, she didn’t enjoy. Some of it, she did.

220px-Gertrude_Chandler_Warner
Gertrude Chandler Warner

Later, I read to one of my younger nieces (there isn’t a gender bias here, I swear. I just have a ton of nieces and just a few nephews). But now I get to read to my sons! We read to them every night. Julie and I swap nights. This gives us both time with the boys and time to ourselves when it’s the other parent’s turn. (The older boys are listening to The Half-Blood Prince in case you’re wondering.)

The really cool thing is I’m reading books I loved when I last read them, and since it’s been so long, it’s like reading them for the first time. Perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement. I certainly remember how Harry Potter goes. But I’m still not sure I could name all four Boxcar Children. I just tired, and I couldn’t do it. So I have this wonderful chance to revisit old stories and share them with my sons. My oldest is getting to the point where he’s reading on his own, and my middle boy isn’t that far behind, but I find myself cherishing this time I get with them.

Me and the Boys
Me and the Boys.

Reading didn’t become a big habit in my family until I was grown. I first started reading heavily with Natty Bumpo. Then I discovered the Star Wars Extended Universe. Then I discovered Dean Koontz, and then The Wheel of Time. I honestly believe that when we grow up reading, we grow up imagining and thinking. But the biggest value still comes with that personal, quiet time we get with our sons. Not only do the stories we read together entertain us, but the memories we create reading those stories to our children are ones I’ll always want to hold onto.

So here’s to The Boxcar Children! I’m so glad I get to share you with another generation. I hope he comes to love you as much as I do.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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4 thoughts on “The Boxcar Children: Reading With My Son

    1. I think a lot of “beloved” books have to hit the right kid at the right age in the right circumstances, so it’s not surprising to hear it didn’t catch you (and wouldn’t be if it didn’t catch a lot of people). It’s cool that your niece is enjoying them.

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