Literacy for a Lifetime

On the weekend I was flicking through old photo albums. What a heart-warming experience, to relive those tender baby/toddler years, nurturing little boys and shaping habits to last a lifetime.

This photo was always a favourite – but with time and distance it is now sentimentally significant for a wealth of reasons.

I love the memories this photo sparks of those two small boys and their delightfully different little personalities.

You no doubt look at the picture and see three ‘boys’ enthralled by the story. But I have to chuckle, because I know that looks can be very deceptive. And I remember…

That chubby toddler engrossed in the book was our Mr Serious. As a tiny baby, he would sit propped (sometimes slumped) under Dad’s arm reading the paper while I rattled around in the kitchen. Before he could walk, he could flip conscientiously through magazines without scrunching or tearing a page. As a youngster, if anyone offered to read, Mr Serious was enthralled from start to finish and always begging for more… and more… and more. Too much was never enough.

That baby, comfortably sprawled against Dad… he was our Pocket Rocket. A bounce, bounce, bounce bub. A run and giggle squeal, catch me if you can bub. And though he looks like he’s settled in for story time, there is the deception. No story was short enough to keep that wriggle pot in place from start to finish. For the Pocket Rocket, story time was special – for the briefest of moments. Cuddle and run. As parents, we were king and queen of abbreviation – cut to the chase to keep that rascal engaged.

You couldn’t find two little boys more different. For Mr Serious, the passion was there from the start. The habit of reading as natural as breathing. For the Pocket Rocket, it was just one in a busy round of things to do. And since it didn’t require much energy – it didn’t require much time.

But we figured it was worth the extra effort to engage our Pocket Rocket.

I can still remember the elation when we finally read a little board book from start to finish in one session. Celebration!

Now, when he reads, he is absorbed in a story from cover to cover – and for a Pocket Rocket, that can be a long time of inactivity!

That daddy wrapped around down close and cosy, intimately involved in the story… he is The Catastrophic Cattleman, a rip, tear, bust, Aussie man-on-the-land.

He does not share my passion for literacy – my love of literature. He does not have my teaching background. Though he supports (in as much as he tolerates and tries to understand) my writing pursuits, he is not a writer. Yet he has shared many moments like these with his sons, fostering a close relationship with both boys, and helping to instill the habit of reading that enables them in so many aspects of their schooling today – of their life.

The grazier who reads mostly webpages, manuals, share reports, and magazines about those fabulous flying machines… rarely reads a book. Yet he knows the importance of reading – and recognises the value in reading with our children. In taking quiet moments from his hectic day to read with our boys, he has shown them that he values reading – that he values them!

This pic is a snapshot of two gorgeous boys at about the age when I realised I had to write their Aussie farm stories… And I, who had never really thought about being a writer, took my first tentative steps to publication.

But more importantly, though our boys were both mere babes at this time, the shared reading experience snapped here has created a habit that is still in evidence today and will, I suspect, last a lifetime.

Such a short moment in time, but this picture speaks a thousand words about our family.



  1. Kat, that is a divine photo and a beautiful post. I think I enjoyed it so much because it is almost an exact reflection of where I’m at in my life right now – you’d just have to add another Pocket Rocket to the picture and you would’ve summed up my oldest (Mr Serious) and the twins perfectly!! And our husbands sound scarily similar… Thank you for giving me a peek into the future for our family. And for giving me the hope that one day I will be able to get through a board book with the twins in one sitting!!! LOL


  2. That’s pretty special, Karen – giving you a peak into the future of your family. I’m sure your Pocket Rockets will grow to love reading too. My Pocket Rocket is the one who started ‘This is the Mud!’ on its journey to publication.

    Those early days of shared reading have had so many flow-on effects. Both boys are fantastic little critters, so precise in their feedback about what works and what doesn’t – and why. And spot-on!

    Trisha, you’re right. I think that pic does stand alone, without my sentimental reflections.


  3. Pingback: Books Light Up Our Lives | Kathryn Apel

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