I am thankful that books have always been such an important part of my life. I know my parents read to me often – grandparents, too. I still have a few of those old Little Golden Books from my childhood.
When I was in elementary school, the magic of getting lost in a story happened to me in third grade. I remember the first “chapter” book that became real to me – The Plow Penny Mystery. Someday I may purchase one to add to my collection.
For some reason I loved Freddy the Pig books. I do have three of those that are calling from the shelf for me to make time to reread them.
I have to admit that I suffered through some of the classics in high school. Many did speak to me, especially under the loving tutelage of some dear English teachers, but others I never could make sense of – even with Cliff Notes.
In college my favorite courses turned out to be the Children’s Literature classes. I read many familiar stories with new eyes and better understanding. Even in those days before comprehension strategy instruction I learned that visualizing and synthesizing made the book become my own. One of the projects we were assigned was to make a diorama of a fairy tale. Mine still remains intact 35+ years later. It was always the topic of discussion and questioning from my students when I had it in my classroom.
When our children were little we read to them each night. They had favorites as little ones: The Best Nest and Go Dog, Go! The Bible Storybook was well worn through those years, too. Such special times together. It was incredible to see the impact of a favorite story and a good read. On my life as well as theirs.
In my fourth grade classroom I always made time for read alouds. Almost Starring Skinnybones, The Matchlock Gun, and Where the Red Fern Grows came around every year. That was back in the days of using a basal reader, and we came to know the characters in those stories as well.
It was my great joy to become a literacy specialist and to work more specifically with reading for the last ten years of my teaching career. I learned to love books even more, and I shared that appreciation with the classroom teachers I worked with. As it came time for me to retire, I knew I couldn’t give up any of my personal books, but I worried that certain grade levels would miss the stories they had built units around.
So I decided to give each grade level some (new) books as my parting gift. I had such fun choosing the titles – some had been often borrowed from my personal collection, and some were books that I knew would blend in with their curriculum. And each one is “read aloud worthy” – meaning it could be read and reread as a touchstone or mentor text for both reading and writing instruction.
It was even more pleasant to wrap each one with a reading quote that spoke specifically to that grade and its demands.
And my personal books are on a bookshelf at home awaiting the newest joy of my life, our future granddaughter, Madison Rosalie. Won’t we have fun adventures as we travel those many pages together! A new kind of book love will fill our lives for sure.