My most memorable inheritance didn’t come in the form of money, real estate, or stocks. The gift was a love for reading and it came from my mom.
Mom held a fondness for words. A winner in school spelling bees, and a proof reader before marriage, she passed along her affection for language by reading to us every night. It was not officially bedtime until she had read at least a few selections from our favorite, The Bumper Book.*
If I close my eyes, I can still see the orange cover of the oversized volume with bunnies, chicks, a lamb and a pig frolicking with chubby-cheeked boys and girls. I can almost feel the weight of that book when Mom opened and rested it on our laps as we snuggled beside her. We held the outer edges of the hardback and were her “page turners.” She’d ask what we wanted her to read. She’d comply even if our selections were the longer ones.
The book included short stories, alphabet, number, and nursery rhymes, and our favorites-the poems. These offered a sing-song tempo that soothed us into slumber. As I think on these poems-which I still know by heart- I can almost hear Mom’s expression-filled tones as she’s retell our favorites:
“How would you like to go up in a swing?
Up in the air so blue?
Oh I do think it’s the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do…” **
(As I write this, I’m feeling nostalgic and recall the wooden swing Dad built for us near the patch of hens and chickens.)
Our other favorites included Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod – who sailed through the sky in a wooden shoe, *** The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat- who got in a fight one night and ate each other up ****, and The Cupboard– which “held a jar of lollipops for me, me, me.” *****
When my first son-and my first niece- were born, Mom gave them Bumper Books. I read our copy to all our sons, who liked it as much as I. Later, when my grand-daughter and grandson were born, I also gave them Bumper Books. (By that time, it was out of print but I found used ones online.)
Mom’s inheritance has passed through three generations, with more to hopefully come. With impetus from The Bumper Book, we are all devoted readers.