Literacy and the Gender Gap
While I'm on the subject of literacy, Spunky posed an interesting question about the difference between boys and girl in reading. I have indeed noticed a difference...a true qualitative difference in how my girls and my boy approach a book, not just interest in subject matter.

Little Mouse (my oldest daughter, now 7) approached books with great fascination. She has been a voracious reader since she developed the fine motor skills to turn a page. Even at two, she would spend hours in a nest of books, absorbing the pictures and reciting what she remembered from memory.

Baby Bug (my youngest daughter, now one) also dearly loves books. For her, it sometimes seems more like imitation of her older siblings, however, as she is almost as likely to choose one of my pictureless books to peruse. Still, she calmly turns pages, points at pictures and "asks" questions, as I do when I read to her. We don't understand a syllable of what she is saying, but her intonation is perfect and her face quite expressive.

Baby Bear
(my 3yo son) also has displayed an intense interest in books since a very young age. He studied books as intently as his sisters, but in a different way. He knocked on them and banged them together. He tested how well his cars drove on them. He picked up the hard cover books on edge and peered through the spine, as if trying to determine how it was held together. He examaned the glue, staples and stitching of various books and compared how the books stood and their pages turned. He was rougher with the pages, and was more apt to tear them, but it was not due to carelessness. He forever seemed to be testing them, to see what they could do and what was holding them together. The world contained within the pages were of little interest as he was captivated by the engineering of the book itself.

Now he loves to be read to as much as his sisters, and is quite content to sit in my lap for an afternoon, selecting book after book and always asking for just one more. Or for the same book just one more time. I wonder if I had him in preschool how often the teacher would have taken the book from him and said, "No, you hold a book like this." Or if he perhaps would have had access only to board books. Perhaps then he wouldn't have seen any use for them. There wouldn't have been anything to drive his curiosity.