Tuesday, January 13, 2009


(Spoiler alert: if you don't know how Marley and Me ends, and don't want to know, then read no further!)

I couldn't tell you the first time any of my kids smiled, rolled over, or took their first steps. But today is a day I will always remember. I came into Erika's room to kiss her goodnight, and she showed me that she had finished reading her edited-for-young-people version of Marley and Me. I told her that yes, we could go see the movie, as I had promised her, and I tucked her in and turned off the light. Then she broke into tears: "It was so sad when Marley died at the end," she sobbed.

It was the first time a book made Erika cry.

That's a big step, when you learn that not all books have happy endings. Most of them do, when you're in second grade. They're happy stories about girls and their horses, and girls and their puppies, and girls lucky enough to have puppies AND horses (at least, these are the books Erika tends to bring home from the library).

I was just excited for Erika to discover the intense emotional relationships you can form with certain books. I've been a passionate reader my whole life, so for some reason I just assumed my kids would also be big readers. And although Hilary does recluse herself in her room with a book on a fairly regular basis, Erika's reading has mostly been at my urging. She's a good reader, and she likes books well enough, but she'd usually rather hook Gretchen and Declan up to a cardboard box and play dog sled team. Because, let's face it, one disadvantage (if you want to call it that) of living in such a big, chaotic household is that there are so many kids around to play with, the environment isn't that conducive to more introspective, solitary activities like reading.

I hope this is just the beginning for Erika. Because, although I can't even remember most of the books I read last year, I remember in great detail those books that moved me as a child: The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. The Shoes series by Noel Streatfeild. Judy Blume. The Black Cauldron. Maybe, when she's grown, Erika will feel the same way about Marley and Me - that it was the start of a lifelong love affair with reading.


Anonymous said...


Amy said...

The more profound the autism, the earlier it will manifest. But I would say that if a child isn't talking by the age of 2, and if he isn't following simple directions, responding when his name is called, or pointing with a clear index finger point, he should be evaluated.

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