Go Ape and Then Some
Strut with Tut

Books for Babies: Hold the Eliot

Confession time. When my son Junior was only a few months old, I came up with the cockamamie scheme of reading him T.S. Eliot. "Let us go then, you and I/When the evening is spread out against the sky/Like a patient etherised upon a table..."

Why on earth would I subject a baby to such a thing? Because, in the name of misguided parents everywhere, I never really understood Eliot, and I knew, just knew, that Junior would be enthralled with the sound of my voice, even if I was reading "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Then I would be an Eliot expert and we would be oh-so-literary. He hated it. All of it. "Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets/ The muttering retreats/ Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/ And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells..." He bawled. I had to give up. So I switched to A. A. Milne. "James James Morrison Morrison..." and that went over better.

I wish I'd known about the Beginning with Books awards, sponsored by a Pittsburgh early-literacy organization. Junior would have been spared the whole lit'ry-stage-mom craziness. Fortunately I got over it.

But I still can't figure out Prufrock.


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