Friday, March 5, 2010

When a post becomes a novel

OK… this is going to be a long yakkity yak even for me because this is my hot button topic. Plus, I have been up since 4:00 AM., and caffeine is a stimulant.

You might want to go grab a cup of coffee…


This week, my next thing was to attack the book storage in this home. No small task I assure you. I love books. Back in the days when parents let their kids roam freely about the stores, my mother could always find me sitting on the floor in the book section. It isn’t just the adventure inside of a book that I love. No, I love the very feel and smell of a book. The older and more worn the book is, the more I love it.

Like this tattered little guy who has been loved for two generations.

I keep my books stashed in various places throughout the house. Hard backed, quality books get to be displayed. The soft backed or tattered books live like second class citizens either in a box, a trunk, or on the shelf behind the door in that den closet.

Yet those books are actually the ones that I love the most. I wouldn’t part with them although their organization has been the bane of my existence for two decades. Oh, I’ve tried to organize them. I even color coded the spines with tape way back when.


But it didn’t work. They always ended up looking like this anyway.  

Sometimes worse. I gave up and just banished them behind a door.

But I love them.

One of my dreams is to own a quaint little book store like The Shop Around the Corner in You’ve Got Mail. Like Meg Ryan’s character I would specialize in children’s books. If you’ve ever clicked my profile, you might have noticed that I neglect to list my favorite books. There’s a reason for that. When asked, I’m always a little embarrassed to list them because if I am to be perfectly truthful, my favorite books are STILL those from my childhood. Nothing apart from the Bible that I have read as an adult has ever made me want to revisit it over and over the way that my favorite books from my childhood do.

And I developed that love long before I was an independent reader because of adults in my life who took the time to read aloud to me.

It seems that as a culture, we’re losing the art of reading aloud. Our school days are so jam packed and cut so short that teachers lack the time to do what my wonderful teachers did when they quieted the class, usually at the end of the day or just after recess, and read chapter books aloud to us. If I close my eyes, I can hear Mr. O’Hara’s voice as he reads The Boxcar Children even today.

All evidence points to the fact that read aloud time is woefully absent in the home as well. I love it when I hear of young families visiting the library together and relishing the ritual of bedtime reading. I suspect, though, that they are a growing minority.

Reading aloud to children reaps multiple blessings. Not only does it engage the brain and create a better reader and learner, but it also teaches the simple discipline of stillness. I literally want to cry as I observe children today who can not sit for five minutes without self- centered participation, without piping in with their anecdotal tidbits, most of which if you listen, begin with the word “I”. Reading aloud teaches children to passively appreciate a voice other than their own. It teaches them, if nothing more, to sit still.

But there is so much more!

It promotes bonding. In essence, we extend the rocking years by replacing the lullaby with the words of a good story. Mom should read. Dad should read. Grandparents, if they can, should read to them too.

I have a friend whose grandson lives many hours away. She and her daughter have devised some wonderful cyber grandma time. Periodically, Grandma appears on SKYPE and reads aloud to her grandson while Mommy attends to daily chores. Sure, she would rather be holding him in person, but she decided to think outside the box. I would never have thought of that! How many Grandma Points do you suppose she should get?


I love picture books, and some day I’ll post about my favorite picture books for children. But it wasn’t picture books that I found on my shelves the other day. Those are either secured in Innie Paradise or tagging along with the traveling teacher box. The books that I found on my shelves which took me on this detour off Debbie Drive were favorite chapter books, too prime for the reread to be relegated to the attic.

So today, I want to share a few family read aloud favorites.

I’ll wait while you refill the cup if necessary….

Well, of course...I’ll start with my all time favorite series of books.

In fact, my favorite book of all time is this one.

I have read it silently and aloud so many times that I can quote most of it. Someday, I’ll post entirely on this wonderful book which literally changed my outlook.  And by the way, the television series is a poor excuse for the masterful works of this author.  Grrrrrr. We’re huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fans here and overflowing with Laura books.

We even took the girls to visit her home and museum one summer...

Why, look! Here’s the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home ...behind my girls...

Beyond "Laura" books are many others. The 3rd grade teacher of The Practical One gets the credit for introducing what became HER personal favorite series of books.


And then there are these books. I believe the credit goes to her fourth grade teacher for them.

And for this one too

And these books, which are two of my favorites. 

Disclaimer: I never liked White's Stuart Little. I mean, a talking spider and a trumpeting swan I can get into, but a adventurous rodent notsomuch.

This is one in a series which begins with Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. Miss Whimsy’s teacher read it aloud. She was hooked thereafter. 

And this one a classmate's dad volunteered his lunch hour to read to her 5th grade class.
Hooked again.

There are so many other great read alouds, but I promised myself that I would stop before this became a 1000 word essay…

Too late.

Summer of the MonkeysHomer PriceWhere the Red Fern Grows… EVERY BOOK by Beverly Cleary…good old Hank the Cow Dog

Just a few of our favorites. What are yours?


Jennie said...

It's been so long since I read a grown-up book I had to put it on my 101 list, but I can happily tell you some of my favorite children's books, as we *definitely* have daily reading time at our house! (If I might brag a bit, I think little man Ben is QUITE the reader. Let his Grammie tell you about it. I just love that he loves reading!)

Kid's books: Officer Buckle & Gloria, a whole host of Dr. Seuess books - I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, The Lorax, Oh the Places You'll Go, Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose. Then there's Don't Laugh Joe & My Lucky Day (both by Keiko Kasza), The Little House.

I loved the Little House on the Prairie books and read them all when I was in elementary school. My other "school" favorites - Hatchet, The Dark is Rising, A Wrinkle in Time, The Acorn People, The Canterbury Tales, Hamlet (#1 of all time)

I confess to buying the Anne of Green Gables boxed set a couple of years into my marriage to Sam because he could not BELIEVE I'd never read them, and I still haven't. (Seriously, I need to block out some reading time!)

Perhaps I should break this comment out as a post until itself entitled "When a comment become a post"!

That girl who keeps calling herself your kindred spirit in every comment she leaves, however creepy that might be!

Jennie said...

*unto* itself

That girl who also doesn't proofread comments until it's "too late"

Debbie said...

Oh no. This is scary...

The girls were equally horrified to discover that I had never read Anne of Green Gables either. I was "required" to read it. I have to say that I LOVED IT when I finally did.

I think I'm Anne.

And I LOVE how you read with your kids. Major pat on the back!!

Amy Kinser said...

What a great post. I love that you listed the titles of your favorites. My first grader and I are going through the Little House Series right now for History.

Anonymous said...

Bed knobs and broomsticks, I remember lining up my sister and brother on the bed and reciting the magic words to transport us. We didn't go anywhere magic but it wasn't from lack of trying.


laura :) said...

I find it humorous that the self-described "perfect child" picked the classics, while the self-described "erratic one" picked stories about racial tensions in the South and Middle Earth!!

Anonymous said...

I missed so much in my childhood but have made up for it as an adult. I had a learning disability and didn't really appriciate reading till I was a teen. My parents were not big readers so we never ventured into a library. So no early childhood favorites here. But God was good to me and mated me with a reader. This man taught me the love of reading and when first born arrived I read to her. My siblings laughed at me! We would sit in the library for story time with all the other Mom's and their children. This started a chain reaction! All four of my children are big readers and one is a librarian at an elementary school. Of my eight grand kids most are readers for the fun of it but 2 of my girls, Miss G and Haley, read only cuz they have to. I'm hoping that the magic of words will soon settle on them!
Now in my Golden Years I'm never without a book! Books are my best friend! I love to read!
I guess that I would have to say that the Little House books are my favorite juvenial reading and I read all of thek with #1 daughter when she was in elementary school. The other books you mentioned are family favorites also!


Linda W said...

This is a topic very close to my heart because I, too, believe reading is the most important value one can instill in a child. When our firstborn was 4 months old I began reading to her. Of course, my family and hubby gave me That Look, however, I ignored them and continued. As she became a toddler, reading was our bedtime ritual; how can one drift off to slumberland without hearing a sweet, heartfelt story? As daughter #2 arrived, the reading continued and, by this time, I had a list of favorites to share.

Now that I have grandchildren, books continue to be my favorite gifts to them. Two years ago I started mailing a book each week to our granddaughter in Atlanta. I'm not sure who enjoyed the ritual more, me or Ansley. She would call me, sounding quite excited about the latest one to arrive via the mailman. To date, she has a phenomenal library and books continue to be her favorite gifts. I truly believe her love of reading and being read to has given her an edge. Now, at age 7, she's reading on a 5th grade level. While I certainly won't attempt to take credit for her ability, it gives me pride.

Just love that you included a photo of my favorite childhood book...Charlotte's Web. Even now, I can remember my teacher (possibly second grade?), reading it aloud each afternoon following recess. Honestly, there was a time when I truly believed all pigs and spiders talked! And, you know, I'm still not convinced they don't.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Debbie. I smile thinking about a gentler time when parents took the time to share one of life's best kept secrets and lessons.

Kelley said...

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954)

I didn't. Have a mother. I mean, I did have a mother but she did not read to me. But my girls had a mother who read to her.

LOVED this post. We were so into books, and my children loved how I would change my voice for each character. I got hoarse on road trips, though. *wink*

Kelley said...

Bahahaha! My girls had a mother who read to HER? Oh, boy.

Proofread, wouldja already?!


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