TBT – Love of Books

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world.  Love of books is the best of all.” — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” — Maya Angelou

Hi and Happy Thursday! Here is a photo of a young Ian looking at one of his board books.  This was before he could read.  Once he learned, he was unstoppable and now loves to read.  He wasn’t sure he could learn but did and we are so proud of him.

Speaking of books, I just started reading a book called, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From A Children’s Book.”  It includes life lessons from notable people from all walks of life. For each of these people, there is a quote from the book that influenced them, the title, person’s name and what that book meant to them.

It is really cool, has a lot of great information, and reminded me of a few of my favorites.  A few featured people are: Jay Leno who liked Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and the inventor of the artificial heart who liked The Wizard of Oz. This book has me thinking of what books have influenced me. There have been many.

I never seem to be without a book.  I love to read and cannot remember a time that I didn’t.  I love to be transported to another world and be immersed in the stories and the character’s lives.  One of my favorite books as a child was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I loved this book and the mystery of that garden and seeing what it meant to the lead character.

I have the book and plan to re-read it soon as an adult.  I wonder if it will have the same allure and amazement to me as a grownup?  I wonder if it will mean as much to me now as it did then?  I cannot wait to find out.  I will share my impressions with you.  I just have to figure out when I want to start on this journey back to my childhood.

A few other favorites from my childhood were:

  • The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  • anything and everything by Richard Scarry
  • The Mouse and The Motorcycle
  • The Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • The Hardy Boys Mysteries
  • The Little House on The Prairie Series
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series

Ian has some favorites too.  Some that he has enjoyed are:

  • Good Night Moon (which I must have read 200 times or more to him)
  • The Foot Book and many other Dr. Seuss books
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • Star Wars: The Jedi Academy series
  • A Dog’s Life about a stray dog
  • James and The Giant Peach
  • The Warriors series by Erin Hunter, which he just finished

As an adult, I have other books that I have enjoyed reading or that have influenced me:  Roots by Alex Haley, Jemima J by Jane Green, Thunder Dog, as well as books by Danielle Steel, Carol Higgins Clark, Jane Porter, and so many others.

How about you?  What books have meant a lot to you?  I would love to hear from you.  Please share with me and the other readers.  I hope that your children enjoy books as well.

Hope you have a great adventure with your next book.  I know that I will.

Toys, Go Stuffed

This is a line often said by Doc McStuffins to her toys when they are about to be seen as being real by her brother, her parents, or her friends.

This is one of Ian’s favorite shows, which airs on the Disney Channel.  He enjoys watching the adventures of Doc and her toys – Lamby, Stuffy, Chilly, and several others.  Doc takes care of them and other toys who get hurt or broken.

Not only is it fun seeing the bond they have, but also the show encourages children to not be scared of going to see the doctor, the doctor’s examination, or the doctor’s office.  Several lessons are being taught in a fun and entertaining way.

Lamby is a ballerina lamb who loves to cuddle.  Stuffy is a brave dragon who likes a good joke.  Chilly is a stuffed snowman who is always thinking he will melt.  They have grown on me and on Ian as well.

He plays the same way with his own toys.  They come to life for Ian and it is an amazing thing to see.  Ian has a few favorite buddies who are now constant companions.  Mouse the Mouse is currently his best stuffed friend.  They do almost everything together — like going to the potty, playing, and planning the day. And, Ian does a great job at making Mouse the Mouse talk.  He has a higher voice than Ian’s voice.

I am seeing his creativity and gift of storytelling expand each day by the interaction he has with his stuffed friends.  His imagination is amazing and inspiring.  The entire world is open to him to learn about and this is one small way he is learning.

In addition to Mouse the Mouse, one of Ian’s faves is his giraffe with a very short neck named Gerry.  Regarding Gerry, we discussed the fact that all of us are different, look very different and that it’s okay not to have to look or be a certain way.  Two other favorites are Baby Mickey and Big Mickey.  They too are helping him learn to take care of himself and others.

Mouse the Mouse is from the amazing “If You Take a Mouse to School” book series.  He is pictured above with his Santa hat on.   We took this picture as we started decorating for Christmas last weekend.

Seeing Ian play with his toys and his love for the Doc McStuffins show has made me think of an amazing book that was one of my friend Dawn’s favorites — The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.  I have been thinking about that story as I see Ian play with his toys that are alive in his eyes.

Do you remember this amazing book?   Here are a few of the most memorable lines:

“Real isn’t how you are made,”  said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “Or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Such love not only applies to toys in my opinion.  We can love each other that way too — unconditionally and without judgement.  Wouldn’t that be amazing if we could love the way that children love?

Toys are alive and well and truly loved in the Cates house.  I hope they are in yours as well!

Imagination Library Graduate

Ian loves books and has for as long as I can remember.  This is in part because of his participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which started at a very young age.

In the state of Tennessee and a few others, children can be registered at birth and receive a book a month until they turn 5 years old.  Isn’t that an amazing gift?  I certainly think so!!

Pictured is Ian reading the first book that he got in the program — “Skippyjon Jones Up & Down” by Judy Schachner.  He was fascinated with the pictures and story. He enjoyed listening to us read it to him too.

We didn’t register him until he was about 7 months old so he still didn’t receive all of the books he could have during this first 5 years of life, but he now has an impressive collection.

Since he turned 5 years old on Tuesday, he has graduated from this program.  I am a bit sad since we so looked forward to what the books would be each month.  They were right on track with his age and interest.  Clearly they have a staff who knows about children’s books.

The good thing about this program was him seeing and reading books that we probably wouldn’t have picked on our own or hadn’t heard about.  Now he likes a variety of books and has learned to love reading.

Imagination Library was created by Dolly Parton.  She grew up in Tennessee and wanted to do something to give back to the community and the state.  Thank God for Dolly since she has done so much for childhood literacy!

This morning I looked at the program’s web site (www.imaginationlibrary.com) and saw that more than 600,000 children are currently enrolled.  That is an amazing amount of books being given away!

The book that Ian received this week for graduation includes a really nice letter from Dolly Parton.  The book itself is about kindergarten, “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson. This is great for getting kids ready for the next step.

Dolly Parton’s graduation letter says in part, “My, how time flies.  It seems it was only yesterday when your family and friends read you your first story.  You were just a baby.  Now you’re five years old and about to go to school.  How exciting!

“This may be your last book from my Imagination Library but you have to promise me you will keep on reading,”  the letter continues.

Yes, Mrs. Parton, we promise to continue reading and will go to our local library regularly to keep the love of reading alive in Ian!

We also like the new and used book stores, and Ian has a closet in his room that is his at-home library.  He will often say, “Mommy, I’m reading in my library.”  I love to hear that sentence!

My dream would be to write a children’s book that would be included in this collection!  That would truly be amazing!

Some of our favorites from this program have been:

  • “Skippyjon Jones Up & Down” by Judy Schachner
  • “Otis” by Loren Long
  • “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain” by Verna Aardema
  • “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, a winner of The Caldecott Medal
  • “The House That Jack Built” by Jeanette Winter
  • “Easy Street” by Rita Gray (about how roads are made)
  • “The Tale of Pip and Squeak” by Kate Duke
  • “Firefighters to the Rescue!” by Kersten Hamilton
  • “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper
  • “Holler Loudly” by Cynthia Leitich Smith

We will continue to read and hopefully can provide new books to Ian on a regular basis.  And, we hope that this program continues to grow and awaken the love of books in other children as it has in Ian.

Thanks again to Dolly Parton and the entire Imagination Library staff and authors of the books!  You are providing such an amazing service to so many!!

We Love To Read

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” — A.C. Grayling

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.” — Anthony Trollope

“If you can read this, thank a teacher.” — Anonymous teacher

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

“Children are made readers on the laps on their parents.” — Emile Buchwald

One of my favorite things to do is sit and read a good book. How about you?

A comfy chair or couch, or the beach, a good drink (depending on the temperature and weather, it could be a cold glass of water or hot cocoa), and a real book.  Ah bliss.  I like hard or soft bound books and ones with interesting art on the cover and a great story inside.  I still haven’t converted over the E-Books — at least not yet.

I enjoy being transported into another place and watching the characters deal with issues or learn something new about themselves. Some of my favorite authors are Carol Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Wendy Corsi Staub, Jane Green, and Nora Roberts.  And, I have recently discovered Karen McQuestion and Jane Porter.

When I was younger, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series as well as “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, and “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett was another childhood favorite.

I also enjoy biographies of people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Amy Grant, Julie Andrews, Susan Boyle, Ricky Martin, and Dean Martin as well as many, many other fascinating people.  And the story of Anne Frank is truly sad and moving. Finding out what makes people tick and their life history is truly fascinating to me.

I also enjoy reading my soap magazine to find out about the actors who tell the stories that I so enjoy.  And, it’s been fun that I have met a few of them through the years.  As you see, I have a wide variety of tastes.

And, now having a 4-year-old soon-to-be reader, I have enjoyed seeing his love for books!  He too enjoys pouring over a book and studying all about them.  And, once he hears a story read to him, he can then read it back to himself.

One of our favorites is Richard Scarry.  Ian can spend hours as I used to do looking at all of the animals on the page, the cool cars, and fascinating stories and characters.  And, he has recently discovered Dr. Seuss!  He loves “The Foot Book,” “The Sleep Book,” and “Yertle the Turtle” among many, many titles.  I think that these two are the best children’s authors.

Each month of his life, Ian has been getting a book as part of the Imagination Library.  God bless Dolly Parton for sharing the love of reading with so many people in Tennessee and other states!  Ian has looked forward to these books each month and we now have quite a collection.  His last book will be the month he turns 5 years old.  That will be sad but maybe Kirk and I can start our own collection for him.  Kirk too loves to read.

And, each month in the mail, Ian gets his High Five magazine which he really likes.  It is neat for him to be excited about a magazine and all of the great stories inside and funny things to look at!  Thanks to my parents for the subscription.

Each week we like to go to our city library.  Ian will often ask to go since he enjoys playing there with toys and puzzles, renting movies, as well as checking out a pile of books.  Right now we have three videos and 20 books checked out.  Among these are “Harry, the Dirty Dog,” “The Sneetches and other stories,” The Caboose Who Got Loose,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and a few for me as well.

This summer our library will have its yearly reading program.   We signed up Ian a few years ago and read many, many books to him.  He loved it and the summer ended with a great party in the park behind the library.  A fun time, that’s for sure.

I have several friends who have published books.  It is an honor to know people who have been published since I know the hard work involved.  I hope to join this club one day!  In addition to my love of reading, I hope to be an author.  I really want to write a children’s book as well as a novel.  I am currently working on ideas and look forward to seeing what develops.

What books do you like?  What authors can you lose time with while being transported to another place and time?  Please share these with me and our other readers!