Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Time for a Story

The children pictured below are enjoying the small library at our church. I was the children’s librarian for a number of years and thoroughly enjoyed buying and reviewing many of the books on these shelves. We never had a television at home when we were growing up, so we read many books that have become lifelong friends. I still have my childhood books and find it difficult to even contemplate parting with them. The Enid Blyton mysteries were read and re-read and I have many volumes written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I still love my Rudyard Kipling books and Sandland Brother inherited a whole bookcase of red leather-bound classics from an uncle. Over the years, I have received books from family members who were downsizing or who had died. I have most of Grandma’s books, many of them Canadian first editions by authors such as Emily Carr, Pauline Johnson, and Susannah Moody.

I still take my turn checking out books in the church library and have noticed that fewer and fewer children are reading. Parents will bring preschoolers in for picture stories, but older elementary school children are not looking at more challenging chapter books.

Miss Methe was my wonderful 5th grade teacher. At the end of each school day, she would read a chapter or two from a classic book, such as Black Beauty or Treasure Island. These stories would sometimes start out slowly, but before long, the class was anticipating the next installation with pleasure. I credit her for encouraging me to read at a higher level than the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I was going through very quickly. One of my favourite movies is Matilda which is based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl, a most creative and delightful author. Who wouldn’t enjoy a little girl who reads Moby Dick at bedtime and takes books out of the library by the wagon load?

I still love to read, but it is hard sometimes to find time to do as much as I want to. We have so many leisure time options available. I try to use our excellent local libraries and only buy a book that I know I will want to read again, or share with others.

Right now I am reading two volumes of poetry by Mary Oliver, introduced to me on Laura’s blog. I just finished Letters from Eden by Julie Zickefoose, which was also recommended by a number of bloggers. It was very enjoyable to read and beautifully illustrated.

I have tried e-books, but miss the feel of pages in my hands. On long trips I have signed out books on CD to listen to in the car. I haven’t found a lot of quality books in this format though.

Children seldom will read without parental encouragement and example. Perhaps I could get some more parents into the little library who would share some time with their young readers, introducing them to a lifetime of reading for pleasure.

4 comments:

  1. That end of the day time with a favorite book was one of my favorite things about teaching second grade. Such a nice way to wind down the day and look out on a small sea of happy children's faces. We read Paddington Bear that way, in small snippets, when we had a few moments.

    How are you finding Mary Oliver?

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  2. I fully think that instilling the love of reading sets the tone for how a child will do academically overall. I know people who literally have never read a book from cover to cover for pleasure and just shake my head at the sadness of that. I can't imagine my life without books.

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  3. Since childhood, I've been a reader. One of my favorite memories was visiting the "Book Mobile" (the library on wheels) once a week in our neighborhood. In elementary school, it was Nancy Drew by the dozens! In high school we had required reading and it wasn't my cup of tea. Now I wish I would devote more time to a good book. There are three on my nightstand waiting for me...

    I read to my daughter for years and she enjoyed a good book. But the older became, the less interested she was in fiction. She's a non-fiction girl who would rather DO IT than READ ABOUT IT.

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  4. Laura- You must have been a wonderful teacher. I am enjoying Mary Oliver immensely. Her language is simple, but vivid and full of beauty and emotion. Our library has all her books but her last one, and I am sure I will end up buying some of them.

    Jayne- You are so right. Those who love books love learning. When I walk into a house that has no books about, I feel something is missing.

    Mary- I read all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries (both by the same author, but different pseudnyms) I like non fiction as well and am reading a book on digital photography as well as Birds of Ontario. I will have to do my homework to match your record of new birds learned!;)

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