Category Archives: From the Archives

From my Archives: Sparking a Passion for Reading

To celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s 210th birthday today, I want to share with you a post I wrote and originally published on this blog on February 27, 2008.

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

born February 27, 1807

Teaching young people how to read is one thing, but sparking a passion for reading is another. As a teacher, I’m highly trained in how to teach children to read, but after 22 years of teaching, I think it’s my own passion for reading that is the most powerful tool I have as I try to ignite that spark in my students. I’ve wondered exactly where my passion came from, and I’ve been able to identify a couple of things that certainly fueled the flames. One was being lovingly read to by my parents. The other was a book experience I had when I was seven or eight years old.

My father, a university professor, asked me to go with him to visit an older, retired professor in town. Dad prepared me on the drive over to this man’s house, letting me know that he was an unusual person, old and always very grumpy with people, sort of a “hermit,” he said. What he didn’t tell me was that the man was a book person extraordinaire.

I don’t think I could ever adequately describe what this man’s house was like. I walked in the front door, my father introduced us, then I looked around. I had never seen so many books in all my life. Bookshelves were everywhere and overflowing with books. Books were piled up everywhere…and I mean everywhere! The living room was completely full of books, so there was no place to sit down. The kitchen was piled high with books — the stovetop and a small space next to the sink were the only places without piles of books. The chairs and table were piled high. There were stacks of books in the bathroom, towers of books in the bedroom. Books were piled high along the hallway. Then, he took us downstairs into his basement, which was also filled with books, except that those books were on rows and rows of bookshelves, just like in a library.

Old Professor Poulson must have recognized me as a fellow book person, even though I was only eight and he was over eighty, because he very proudly showed me his entire collection, was gentle and kind to me, and before I left he gave me a book. That book has always been my most treasured book. It was a very old, lovely volume of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poems, called Voices of the Night. I still read it and treasure it.

I remember spending hours and hours reading those poems and looking at the beautiful art “plates.” I memorized his poem, “The Wreck of the Hersperus,” which fascinated me, and I can still recite it today. And when my father passed away, it was a stanza from Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life” that I chose to use during my remarks at his memorial service:

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”

Looking back, I think my Dad knew exactly what he was doing by showing me this striking example of a person’s passion for reading. It had a tremendous impact on me at a very young age! So, in searching through memories to answer the question of where my passion for reading came from, I realize that, first, my dad and mom taught me to read … and then, in so many different ways, they taught me to love reading, passionately.

10 Years Ago: A Shy Blogger

Books and reading are such an important part of my life. Recently, I’ve become fascinated by the many reading blogs on the internet–the wonderful sharing of ideas and the love of reading. Thinking to myself…I’d like to share some of my passion for books, and some of my experiences as a reader. So, shyly, I begin a blog.

Ten years ago this morning I sat down at my computer and started this blog with that first very short post. I had fallen in love with the new book blogging world online, and although I’m a shy and very private person, I wanted to take part in the celebration of books and reading that was happening at that moment in time. It’s been a wonderful ten years full of books and bookish friends!

So this morning I celebrate a decade of sharing with you my thoughts, memories, and ideas from a lifetime of reading! A heartfelt thank you to all of my readers/followers for being part of my reading life!

10-years

From the Archives: A Book on Reading and Knitting

snow-day-03We are “snowed in” for a few days with this last round of winter storms in Oregon. There are many closures again today, and Hubby and I are fortunate to be able to just stay put in the warm. I don’t mind it at all because I have my books and my knitting!

I am also spending time going through the archives of this blog, looking for posts to share with you once again. I found a post I wrote eight years ago about a pediatrician who shares two of my own passions: early literacy and knitting. The book review is still very relevant today and a book about reading and knitting fits well with my own activities on this snowed-in day.

From the Archives:  A post from January 11, 2009.  TWO SWEATERS FOR MY FATHER

“Knitting is a journey…”

 

As soon as the ice on the roads melted after the holidays, I headed for the library, and this book, Two Sweaters For My Father, was a treasure I found on the shelf with all the knitting books. Perri Klass is a pediatrician, the medical director of Reach Out and Read (“a national non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children, and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud, in pediatric exam rooms across the nation”), and a passionate knitter! This book of essays on knitting was a pleasure to read, not just because I’m a knitter, too, but because Perri Klass is a wonderful writer and a delightful human being. I felt like I’d found a new friend as I read this book.

Her essays, which have been published in various knitting magazines, are about all kinds of experiences she’s had related to knitting and life, and were fun to read. I chuckled all the way through her essay on teaching her daughter to knit. Her essay on knitting after 911, called Knitting in the Shadow, described how life changed even for knitters after that event. The title story, about knitting two sweaters for her father, was a lovely tribute to her father’s unconditional love. And I loved her stories about friendships and knitting, and about having surgery for a repetitive stress injury caused by non-stop knitting and her #13 circular knitting needle! Each story is full of humor and wisdom…and knitting.

I liked this description from her essay, “Y2K—The Year 2 Knit”:

“Knitting is here, knitting is now. When I am knitting, I am knitting—no message left, no tracking who owes whom an attempted communication. The yarn travels through my hands, the needles move, and I am creating a something that was not there before. Not a virtual something that can always be altered with a single click, but a real and tangible something, which can only be altered with a heartbreaking rip and then a multitude of clicks. I think about all the jobs nowadays in which there is no something you are making, and even no someone you are really seeing and talking to, and I understand how knitting fits and stretches to fill a need.”

And this explanation from her essay, “A Passion For Purls”:

“So what is it—what do I get from all this knitting, and what is missing when I take a hard look at myself and don’t see any yarn or needles?
What is missing, I think, is a special sense of portable everyday serenity. Knitting brings something into my life that I might also get—but generally don’t—from great music, religion, or the contemplation of majestic natural beauty. When I knit, my soul is calmed, and, sometimes, exalted. But it’s an every-day exaltation, a calm domestic serenity, easily transported from place to place in a cloth bag…”

Dr. Klass writes for those of us who find daily serenity and creative outlet in knitting or in some other kind of handwork. I’m delighted to have discovered this knitting doctor who champions early literacy!

More about Reach Out and Read“Doctors and nurses know that growing up healthy means growing up with books. The ROR program provides the tools to help promote children’s developmental skills and later school success.”