Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Feeling of Magic

Sometimes when I watch a young child paging through an old picture book I get a visceral memory of the way those old early readers felt and smelt when I was just learning to read. The paper was thicker and the ink had a distinctive scent, mixed with the fingerprints of all the children before me. Does anyone else remember that?

Last night after I read a chapter from Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarick I watched Buddy Boy go through it. He likes to read it after me, telling the story from the pictures and asking for clarifying details to make the story his own. Our copy of the book is an old library discard and it has been poured over by hundreds of children. It has those old style illustrations and the pages make a particular sound as they turn. It pulled me right back to the magic of the very beginning. I can actually remember what it was like to be a child. To adore the physical book and be entranced by the magic of reading. Unlocking the code.

Do you remember learning to read? Longing to read? Falling in love with books?



afrindiemum said...

i remember convincing my teachers in grade school to let me skip recess and stay inside to read :)

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

In first grade, my mother said, "I'm worried that [Alkelda] will never be a reader." My mother was a children's librarian, and I loved it when other people read to me, but I had a habit of taking the book away and offering my own version of the story. I thought I was a reader, but when I entered first grade, I found that I had only memorized all the books I loved so much. I was disgusted with these new books that had words I couldn't read. Then, first grade was over. I moved from an urban setting back to the rural setting from where I started out. I remember looking at the shelves of books in our house and thinking, "Oh! Now I can actually find out what is in all of these books." That summer, I became a reader. By early second grade, I was reading on a 5th or 6th grade level, and was voracious in my consumption of books. In particular, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Melendy Family trilogy by Elizabeth Enright were stories I read repeatedly. I was a bit of a social odd-ball and didn't have a lot of contact with other children in my early years (that's another long story), and I yearned so desperately to step into the lives of the Melendy Family.

tallulah said...

Oh, the memories of reading books as a child! I was a lonely one and used books as an escape. I would read for hours and hours every day. I still have all of my children's books and I read them over and over to all of my children now. It's a very special thing.

cloudscome said...

It is so wonderful to hear the stories of all you you learning to read and loving the magic of books! Thanks for sharing them here.