Shortly before putting my children – Boy 1 and Boy 2 – to bed, my wife got back into the habit of doing what we used to do every night with them but have been neglectful the past few weeks: reading a story to them. As Boy 1 and Boy 2 cuddled up next to their mother, she read the the book “The Three Questions” by Jon Muth. The questions, asked by a boy accompanied on a journey by his animal friends, are: “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?”
The book is based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy, in which a czar replaces the boy in the children’s story. Through a series of adventures (which I won’t spoil for you if you want to read Tolstoy’s story, here), the czar is told by a wise hermit to
|My Richard Scarry book and my father’s Mickey Mouse
book, which he coloured in as a child in the 1930s.
It was the first time I’d heard that story. It was touching and sweet, and a welcome respite from reading Captain Underpants the night before. Reading a story to someone is so much more than simply the act of reading – it’s both an immense joy and, as I note from the deplorable statistic on illiterate adults worldwide, a tremendous privilege. I have treasured by childhood books – the photo shows my 1970 “Livre des Mots” (“Book of Words”) next to my father’s “Mickey Mouse Movie Stories” from 1934 – and I hope my children will have the same habit. Tonight’s “Three Questions” is a great read for children of all ages, and a clear reminder that spending time reading is time well spent.