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.

plow penny mystery

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.

freddy the pig books

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.

wild swans box

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.

retirement books

It was even more pleasant to wrap each one with a reading quote that spoke specifically to that grade and its demands.

retirement book gifts 8

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.

Family reading.

6 thoughts on “bookmarks

  1. mayawoodall says:

    I love these parting gifts, a legacy of literature.

  2. Donna Smith says:

    Wonderful gifts for the grades! I’ve also saved a number of books for reading to grandchildren. I found some new old Golden Books to give to them, too!

  3. What a wonderful look back on your reading life! I’m sure the recipients of your lovely book packages were thrilled. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. bbutler627 says:

    Beautifully told through words and photos! I have so many memories rooted in the books that I read throughout my life. I love this!

  5. Ramona says:

    So fun to read about the books that have mattered to you. I’m gifting my classroom library (minus a few favorites), to a 2nd year teacher who’ll be moving into my classroom. Tomorrow I’ll be gifting books to my students.

  6. Terje says:

    Books make marvelous gifts. So thoughtful and kind of you. I like how you look at retirement as an opportunity to grow book love with your granddaughter.

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