Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Not Just for Kids

Last week, I was honored to be asked to be one of the guest readers at the St. Ambrose School Read-a-thon.  But picking a book to read to the kids K-8 was tricky;  I had only 15 minutes on stage to share a favorite book -- how could I ever choose?

I have a pretty big collection of children's books.  Some of the books I've had since I was a kid, but my collecting really started with a children's literature class at Purdue, which I took during the semester I was an Elementary Ed major.  The professor was tough, and we disagreed on some things (she didn't like Disney movies!  I wonder if she still doesn't?) but I loved the class because we read authors I had never heard of, did interesting projects and I got an A.  

I have most of Sarah, Maggie and Will's books from years of book clubs, book fairs and Scholastic orders.

I have lots of Little Golden Books.  My kids learned pretty quickly that I would say "no" to a crap toy at the grocery, but I would never say "no" to a book.  

When I worked at the library, I would often order copies of the books we would read during storytime on the Bookmobile:  Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie.  I continued that habit while I worked with my sister in kindergarten.  And almost every time I go to a bookstore.

So, I carried a stack of books into the school that day.  Olivia, Knitting Nell, When I Was Young in the Mountains, The Corgiville Fair, Little House on the Prairie.  

But I read from an old book with a lasting message:  the 1945 Newberry Award Winner,  The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin.

This is a book about bullying, although the girls in the story saw it all as fun and games.  It's a story about discrimination.  It's a story about following your conscience.  I couldn't read the entire book to them, but hope I stopped at a point from which they'll want to read it themselves.  I knew I'd chosen well when one of the teachers (and friend) stopped me on the way out to tell me that had been one of her favorite childhood books.  

And because I love poetry, and because this has been a crazy winter, I started with this poem:  

The First Bluebird 
by James Whitcomb Riley 

Jest rain and snow! and rain again!
And dribble! drip! and blow!

Then snow! and thaw! and slush! and then--
Some more rain and snow!

To wake up--when, I jing!
I seen the sun shine out and heerd
The first bluebird of Spring!--
Mother she'd raised the winder some;--
And in acrost the orchurd come,
Soft as a angel's wing,
A breezy, treesy, beesy hum,
Too sweet fer anything!

The winter's shroud was rent a-part--
The sun bust forth in glee,--
And when that that bluebird sung, my hart
Hopped out o' bed with me!


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