Wednesday, August 08, 2007

lizzy -- puppetmaster

Gee -- it occurs to me that this title could convey lots of meaning about the way things work in our household. However, this time, I mean it literally.

(sorry. I'm too lazy to remove the redeye.)

I've struggled a bit with what to read to Lizzy at bedtime. What does she need? I have lots of help determining what she wants. I (foolishly -- I've since discovered used book stores) purchased a 26-book set of Sesame Street alphabet books. We haven't read them in probably two years, but they had a good run when she was about 2. I read her Dr. Seuss' ABC book when I was on maternity leave. Not much since (though I offer it once in awhile). I figure, I want reading to be fun for her -- so I generally let her choose what we read. And she's a slight bit opinionated, if you hadn't noticed.

I worry, though, that I'm missing some crucial opportunity to help her learn to read. No, I don't care what age she does learn, though we must be getting close to when she's sort of supposed to. (Parent freakout alert: Lizzy starts kindergarten in TWENTY-SIX DAYS.) But Lizzy wants to read books full of danger and romance; humor and pathos. Or something like that. Currently, we're on a Sweet Pickles tear, with occasional princess interludes.

A couple of years ago, Lizzy started 'reading' the books to us. (mostly Disney stories -- 101 Dalmatians, for instance, was a big fave.) After just a couple of readings (and lots of questions), she knew what was going on, including liberal use of key phrases from the text. She especially liked reading to an audience, and would flip the book around (like her teachers did) so all could see the pictures.

She's always been pretty good at narrative. Recently -- two weekends ago, I believe -- she told Matt and me that she wanted to put on a few puppet shows for us. "Just five," she declared. Well, okay. It's not the television, and it's not being outside in the brick oven-like heat, so we were good with that.

She then proceeded to make me feel a lot better about letting her read all those books that won't be terribly helpful on the reading front, but that have clearly helped her realize the components of a good story.

I'll admit, her first two puppet shows were about a princess awaiting a prince (or a policeman puppet, which had to do), or a cat awaiting the long-awaited love of a dog puppet. But she would open the scene "Once upon a time, there was a lonely kitty," and then present the dilemma. "She had always wanted a doggy to marry." And it would all proceed from there. She hadn't mastered the idea that you could put one puppet down and put on another, so they were all two-puppet performances. And she insisted on poking her head up during the show. "One day, a doggy came along. He said, 'hey, kitty, would you like to marry me?' The kitty said, 'Oh, yes! Yes, I would like that very much!' And he kissed her on the cheek (puppets kiss), and they got married and lived happily ever after. The end." In one, she even had the happy couple ride off into the sunset to the castle, which is rendered on the back of the 'stage' in the puppet theater. Which, by the way, Matt constructed for her out of some kind of furniture box when she was about a year old. It's amazing. A real work of art, and of love.

The other three skits were a little different -- she wanted to use different puppets for each show, so one person was very hurt, and the doctor puppet had to save him or her. Marriage (and love) weren't absolutes throughout the show, thank goodness.

Matt and I were blown away. It's amazing what that wacky young'un will come up with next.


  1. Ok, the teacher in me was bursting as I read that. Yayyyy Lizzy, and Yayyy Matt and Kate. Way to encourage your girl in all these ways. You've already given her so much and have prepared her so well. Your commitment to literacy in your home is obvious and it's wonderful to see what a sense of story she already has. She's well prepared for KG. :) Take that from me, the first grade teacher, and now just sit back and see how well she does in Kindergarten and you'll see how right I am!

  2. Kate, there's something you never mention but I've been suspecting more and more as you post more pictures of Lizzy: she's just gorgeous! :)

  3. Jackie and Tara took my comments! (I'm not a first grade teacher but I feel pretty impressed anyway)

  4. I still can't get over how different Lizzy looks these days. To think, the first time I ever "met" her was in utero.