All my U.S. history book-selecting for 1800-1850 didn’t amount to much. Seven-year-old S had me read him the Erie Canal and Charles Goodyear books once each, and he may have listened in on one of my many readings of Apples to Oregon at the request of two-year-old F.

But for the most part, the books I had so carefully chosen simply could not compete with the bedroom floorful of Nate the Great and McBroom books that S picked for himself (or asked me to find on his behalf). And so, my older son must face the remainder of his eighth year with a less-than-limited grasp of the first half of 19th century America.

I think he’ll survive.

There’s been a great discussion at Big A little a this weekend about Books your parents want you to read, and I’m glad I was able to offer up a perspective that has been, frankly, hard for me to come around to. I like to share my knowledge and interests with S, but I’ve learned not to take it personally when his enthusiasm could fit on a comma without even hiding the tail. I’ve come to recognize that what really matters is that he be comfortable with his own knowledge and interests. And if verbal output is any measure, boy, is he ever.

Of course, I’ve also learned to be as sneaky as I am stubborn. And this evening, when I just happened to allow him a glimpse of the illustrations of the Civil War navy battle in the picture book I was reading, his curiosity was piqued. Guess whose requested bedtime story tonight was about the inventor of the Monitor?