Last week I talked about Summer Pony, the first chapter book I remember being read aloud to me. While I remember little about that book, I do remember a lot about another of the first chapter books I had read to me. When I was growing up, I had the unique experience of having my mother as a kindergarten teacher. While I am sure the other students knew that she was my mom, I always made sure that I never called her mom while I was at school. During that kindergarten year our class tried to read a chapter book. We started it, and after a few sessions of having us listen while she read, my mom realized that not everyone was really ready for this type of reading experience yet. The two of us continued reading at home. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond was the first chapter book I remember my mom reading to me. I loved that it was set in London. I loved that Paddington came from Peru. Darkest Peru. Eventually I read many of the other Paddington stories. Early on I became aware of the British spellings of words like favourite or colour (I am still stunned when adults don't realize that those spellings aren't wrong, they are just the British version). I enjoyed hearing about all of the scrapes that Paddington managed to get himself into.
I have read that same first Paddington book to my daughters. My oldest daughter remembers it, yet my middle and youngest daughters don't seem to recall much about this character. I still own that same book which now looks ratty and well loved. I'm not sure what it is exactly about Paddington, but he holds a special place in my heart. Because not all of my daughters remember this story, I know already that I will be re-reading it to them at some point. I just can't resist sharing how Paddington came to live with the Browns of Windsor Gardens and nearly drowned in their bathtub.