Thursday, May 13, 2010

What do you mean you haven't read James and the Giant Peach?

As a child, I loved books. My mother taught me to read before I started school just from reading the same books to me over and over and over. It stuck, and now I can't imagine what my life would be without books!

I have taken my 11-year-old nephew to the book store several times, and I have purchased appropriate reading material for him. However, he has yet to read any of the great classics I purchased, and he insists on reading some book about whimpy kids. Oh, why?

Recently, I visited one of the public school libraries, and I asked the librarian what the kids were reading today. She explained that the kids like "movie books." I really have no idea what those are, but she did tell me that Beverly Cleary wasn't popular anymore. WHAT????

The first book I can remember being read is Chicken Little by my Aunt Pete.

My very first best friend, Aunt Pete was in her 80s when I was born, and she babysat me while mother was running errands or picking up my sisters from school. Chicken Little was the only children's book she owned, and so we read it every single day. I remember telling Aunt Pete that she looked like Henny Penny.

My love for Beverly Cleary's Ramona series came next. I read them all! Actually, I was a little like Ramona.

Then there was Charlotte's Web. I read this book so much, the cover eventually fell apart, and even though I knew what would happen, I cried every time.

The book drew me in. I grew up on a farm, and my grandfather had several pigs for a while. Eventually, after slaughtering Old Ulysses, the last pig, my sister and I made a playhouse out of the old pig pen. We used a can of Lysol a day to stand the smell.

Eventually, we moved our club to the hayloft.

I also loved all the Judy Bloom books except for the dirty ones. Momma made me wait to read several of her books until I was old enough. However, Superfudge is still my favorite.

In the second grade, I attempted to read Little Women, and I actually finished it. I did a book report on it, and my teacher (also my dad's sister) was so impressed that I read at such a high level. It's surprising I could get my big ol' head on the school bus after all the accolades.

Of course, I spent so much time in the dictionary looking up all of those wonderful Victorian words, I couldn't appreciate it like I should. I love the Victorian innocence of it all.

My fourth grade teacher read my class James and the Giant Peach. It is still one of my favorite books. I have a copy of it in my study next to the collected plays of Tennessee Williams.

Sometimes, I will flip through that book and think to myself, "Ronald Dahl was brilliant. What an imagination! If only I could be that creative." Then I will feel sorry for myself and pout for a while.

Eventually, I found Anne of Green Gables. Sigh. What a beautiful story.

I will admit that Anne was a bit sensitive, and her absolute rudeness to Gilbert Blythe would have gotten me punished. However, even today when I read it, I wring my hands with anticipation for Anne to finally discover her feelings for Gilbert.


Jenni at talking hairdryer said...

Sadly, I feel your pain with your nephew. My 10 year old son won't read Cleary or Blume either. Wimpy, underware, and bodily functions must be included in his reading material.

I'm telling myself it's because he's a boy.

I have high hopes for my girls. They are almost old enough to start loving some Ramona ;)

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