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.