Second choice for spReAd the love book challenge: Green Eggs and Ham / Hop on Pop

LogoForSpeadTheLove_TransparentHere’s a second post in response to the 2014 spReAd the love book challenge. Sixteen posts on all kinds of books have been made already in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd. You can find links to all of them here! If you enjoy these posts and would like to participate in the challenge yourself, let me know. I can host a guest post; other Armitage bloggers are also ready and waiting to host you.

GreeneggIn honor of the spReAd the love kindness campaign, and the daily inspiration Richard Armitage provides me, a copy of Green Eggs and Ham (1960) has been donated to the Golden Learning Center Library in Balmertown, Ontario, which serves 210 students in grades K-8. If you’d like to help them out, their exceedingly modest amazon.ca wish list is here. They request in particular donations of books on the Olympics, graphic novels, and copies of the longer classic stories of Dr. Seuss (not so much the easy reader titles).

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Hop_on_PopGreen Eggs and Ham was the book I donated because it was specifically requested by my friend’s school library; it turns out it’s the fourth best-selling English language book of all time. I’m sure many of us have memories of this book, either having it read to us or reading it to some one. How many lines can you quote by heart? I do not like you, Sam I am, I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them on a plane, I do not like them on a train … I have those memories, too, but the Dr. Seuss book that I have the strongest, most pleasant memories of is a different one: Hop on Pop (1963).

My parents had a very strong gender role division in their marriage and my mother was the one who read to the children. She was also home with us full time for our entire childhoods (which was, where and when I grew up, considered necessary for the wellbeing of children) and my father worked in an office full time. My mother read to us a lot. I can’t understate how much I admire this now, simply because in retrospect I don’t think it was one of her favorite things to do. But she did it for a long, long time. She read to me at bedtime until I was twelve. I loved it, of course, and I’d have been willing to continue it but I remember exactly how it ended — she told me I’d been reading for eight years now and she could not read one more word of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was on my own! I think she was still reading to my brother at bedtime at that point, he was six, and she and dad were still saying his prayers with him.

My dad was emphatically not the one who read to the children. He fixed things, he taught us to ride bicycles, shoot, and fish, basic wordworking, he taught my brother to repair cars, with me he did science fair things, but he did not read to us. Every now and then he got pressed into reading to us, but he didn’t do it happily, and I saw him replicate the same thing with his granddaughters three decades later — he would read if asked to, but he didn’t read every page or even seem to notice if he’d missed a page. He just wasn’t that interested. He doesn’t especially like to read.

However, as the parent who was away most of the time, dad was the subject of more explicit attention — people with small children and one partner staying at home with them know this experience intimately. The parent who’s away all day gets showered with affection the second s/he walks in the door. Somehow, in our family, this attention got centered around phrases from this book.

If you know the book (from the series The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use), you know it starts with a very simple rhyme — UP PUP Pup is up. (I remember my dad groaning this sometimes on Christmas morning, when we were up very early.) It moves on to a mouse, and then to various characters, all of which rhyme. It’s no understatement to say we loved this book. And it was one that bore very well the skipping of a page or two, because there’s no gripping narrative; it’s just about the rhymes. When my brother was two or three and dad read to him, he always wanted “Hop on Pop.” With physical demonstration. I was amused, while reading the wikipedia article about this book, to discover that apparently former First Lady Laura Bush treasures a similar memory from her daughters’ childhood:

[T]he main thing for me is the family memory—the loving memory—that the book evokes of George lying on the floor and reading it to our daughters, Barbara and Jenna. They were little bitty things, and they took Hop on Pop literally, and jumped on him—we have the pictures to prove it.

And then, when dad came home from work, he came in the door and always said, “up down?” (the house is a split level). My brother would run down the steps to the door and yell, “Hop on pop! Hop, hop, we like to hop! We like to hop on top of pop!” And dad, who had the book more or less memorized by then, would say, “Stop! You must not hop on pop!” My mom came to give him a kiss (they were big kissers), and she would say, in a questioning way, “Dad is sad, very very sad?” and if he’d had a bad day, dad would say, “He had a bad day, what a day dad had!” or else he would laugh.

As Seuss writes, “My father can read big words, too, like Constantinople and Timbuktu!” We all loved rhymes — “mother, father, sister, brother.” Hop on Pop was a great book for a non-reading dad. And a great book for me to remember him with.

~ by Servetus on March 7, 2014.

15 Responses to “Second choice for spReAd the love book challenge: Green Eggs and Ham / Hop on Pop”

  1. I left “The 500 Hats of Bartholemew” for a pre-schoo,l and got to share it….FUNNY comments from the kids! Love it! Leaving ” Finn McCool” for St. Paddy’s Day….!….but don’t know which program or school yet…. let ya’ know…..

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    • OMG, “The 500 Hats” was my interpretive reading piece when I did forensics in junior high. Can’t wait to hear from you!

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  2. Thanks, Dr. S!

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  3. Great memories of your parents. My mom was the one who read me books, my dad it was only the Bible. In later years he loved to read the Little House books to himself.

    I am a reader to myself better than out loud. Mr. 70 has a great voice and would listen to him read to the boys. I think he liked to read to them because his dad couldn’t read. Virgina Lee Burton is a great writer who he reads very well. She also rhymes and he can get a good flow going, it sounds great. Last week he read Katy and the Big Snow to a couple of the 1st grade classes.

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    • Katy and the Big Snow!! What a great memory. We had that book, too, I can see the cover in my mind. Thanks for sharing this. So glad your husband reads!

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      • We have all the Virgina Lee Burton books and Mr. 70 has read them over and over again. He also read them Moby Dick too plus a lot more books.

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  4. Green Eggs and Ham is the first book I read on my own, and I have distinct memories of the occasion when I finally did it correctly. It’s the book I’ve been considering writing about and donating, if I were to participate in this. Excellent choice. 🙂

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  5. Reblogged this on Ancient Armitage and commented:
    One of my kids’ favorites too!

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  6. Both my husband and I read to our daughter, though I did more often as I was at home with her during the early years of her life. One of her favorites as a toddler was Hop on Pop and that’s the one she always wanted Daddy to read to her so she could “hop on pop” as he read it. 😀

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  7. “No, Pat, no! Don’t sit on that!” Is my favorite line. 🙂

    I don’t recall dad ever reading to us. It just wasn’t part of the Ozzie and Harriet roles they followed. But he came home like clockwork a half hour before dinner. Such an ordered life….

    I’m glad your mom stuck it out, even when she wasn’t enjoying herself. Way to go, mom!

    We loved Katy and the Big Snow and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. The pictures were fascinating.

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    • yeah, those gender roles. Then again I’m always reading that people who have strong role divisions in their marriage fight less. (I think my parents fought about different things …)

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  8. […] book challenge posts from Servetus, alyssabethancourt, Fanny and Jazzy Jr. we added 17 kindnesses, so our new grand total of donated […]

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  9. […] blogged about what Anne of Green Gables, meant to her, and I wrote about A Wrinkle in Time and Hop on Pop. Readers who have a favorite children’s book or young adult novel they’d like to […]

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