“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." Kate DiCamillo
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
SLICE #20- THE READING SEED
My Grandma Grace was a librarian for the Chicago Public Libraries. We lived in Colorado Springs and every summer, our family would make the journey across the hot, hot plains of Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa to visit my grandmother in Illinois . I did not mind being squashed between my two sisters, my legs glued to the sticky plastic seats of our non- air conditioned station wagon for those many miles. I knew that at the end of the trip, my grandma would have a pile of books waiting. I would climb joyfully into her large white armchair and lose myself for days at a time.
My grandma was also a giver of books. I think I was about eight when she sent the first book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's LITTLE HOUSE series. Every birthday and every Christmas, she would send another book in that series. I made an rule that I couldn't read a LITTLE HOUSE book until my grandmother sent it to me. I think it took me about four years to read the entire series. Somewhere, maybe from my other grandmother, I had seen someone sign a book, so I carefully printed To: Grammy, From: Carol in childish handwriting in the front of the book. My grandma must have seen that and after that she always signed the books herself.
My grandmother sent other books as well. When I was about six, she sent a yellow and white striped Betty Crocker children's cookbook. I remember sitting in bed on my birthday morning, leafing through to find recipes I could cook. She sent FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER the year it won the Newbery (I still tell kids about how I skipped the prologue, and didn't understand until the end of the book that it was super important to understanding the whole book). Those two books sit next to the thick brown volume of THE BORROWERS (the original, BORROWERS ALOFT, BORROWERS AFLOAT, and BORROWERS AFIELD).
Interestingly, I don't remember receiving books from my grandmother, once I got into middle school It didn't really matter, because she had already planted the reading seed in my life. And that's a seed that has rooted deeply in my life for many years.
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Your seed sprouted from powerful roots. It was fun to read the titles you shared. The only one I didn't recognize was the Frankweiler one - and now I'm curious about the prologue.
I loved your story of you "book mama" or your book grandmama. ;o) What great memories of reading you have from her. I loved this line, "I would climb joyfully into her large white armchair and lose myself for days at a time." I could just picture this chair of happiness with books stacked to the side.
Beautiful story. So many great descriptors and examples. As I close my eyes, these are the ones I recalled:(the non air conditioned car, climbing up on the chair to read, the names of books throughout, you and grandma signing the books, taking years to read the series).
Carol, thanks for both your recent notes to me. If I need it, I will let you know. It's a waiting game right now! FYI- this is a comment for this & the next quote. I like your memories of the library & the grandmother. It's fun to see what books we remember as we grew up. And, I'm excited to hear 'the rest of the story' about the gotcha. My children are adopted too, & my brother has three! I'm always interested in everyone's story of their children.
And-I can't get your blog post to come up today. I could read it on my reader, but when I click on it, it isn't there.
Amazing grandma...love that she was from Chi town too. I didn't get Basil E. either the first time around...funny. xo nanc
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