Bedtime in the House of Usher

This weekend singer-songwriter Usher revealed that the works of Peggy Parish are revered in his household.

Ms. Parish is the creator of the popular Amelia Bedelia books about a maid with an extremely literal mind. Each of the more than three dozen titles in the series describes how Amelia repeatedly misinterprets the simplest instructions. For example, when told  to “dust the furniture,” Amelia cheerfully applies a liberal layer of dirty powder to the couch.

Usher told NPR interviewer Linda Wertheimer that as far as his three- and four-year-old sons are concerned, ”These are the funniest books ever. We have our reading time before they go to bed, and they absolutely love them.”

Usher’s admission is noteworthy for two reasons: First, of course, it’s encouraging to hear any celebrity, especially one whose life is as tumultuous as Usher’s, confess to one of the most ordinary rituals of parenthood.

And second, it’s always fun to see deserving books endure. Amelia Bedelia appeared in 1963 and the series continues to this day at the hand of Herman Parish, Ms. Parish’s nephew. (Amelia Bedelia Unleashed is scheduled for release in 2013.)

Usher’s experience shows how the appeal of a good idea, executed well, can live far beyond the generation of its origin. For nearly 50 years, Amelia Bedelia’s particular form of silliness has tickled new audiences and through bedtime storytelling exerted its power to become, in a small but meaningful way, part of the bond between parent and child.

What is your favorite memory of being read to as a child?

What books do your children or grandchildren most often ask you to read?

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