Why books are more than just words

I think many of us have a story we remember above all others.  Maybe not because of the snazzy cover or even because of the story itself, but because someone took the time to read it aloud and brought the characters to life in our minds back when we were still young enough to have a fantastic imagination, yet old enough to appreciate an interesting tale.

For me, growing up on a farm didn’t allow a lot of time for reading that I can remember, not even at bedtime.  I was the youngest of five children–by a mile.  Chores came first, and learning, a distant last place.  It was the way of things and it was a good life.

However, there is one moment that sticks out in my mind and always will.  Every time I think of it my heart gives off a little glow.  My second oldest sister, Kathy (ten years my senior) and I were about as different as two creatures could be and still be the same sex and species.  She was the mom in training and I was the tom boy, riding my motorcycle and driving heavy machinery, all with my head in the clouds.  I’m sure we had our battles, but that isn’t what I remember most about our time together on the farm.

This particular day in my memory, she sat me down on the front veranda and started reading from Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. The scent of fresh cut hay and clover perfumed the air.  It wasn’t Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, The Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, or Mr. Watzisname that affected me so profoundly, but that my sister took the time to read it to me.  Yes, the magical tree that reached into the clouds, leading to a different fantastical place each time, kept my attention and thrilled me to no end, but without my sister giving animation to the characters, it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable. I’ve already purchased the entire series to read to my daughter.

So you see, a small effort by my sister began a love of stories in me that I’ll pass on to my daughter, and hopefully she’ll do the same if she decides to become a mom.

The words on the page become so much more when read by a loving voice.  A child will always remember the time spent with them. It doesn’t take a lot of time or patience, only a book, a quiet corner to cuddle up in and a pair of ears to listen.  And they will listen.

What story do you remember most as a child?



4 thoughts on “Why books are more than just words

  1. I’m sure you all have them over the pond: The Scholastic Book Fair (or some such thing). We never had much money growing up and my parents rarely had spare money to spend on frivoloties like books. But the one year my mum allowed me to choose a book from there fair. I picked “Teeny Tiny and the Witch”. I can’t recall the entire story, but I’m pretty certain it was about a rather small child who defeated a witch. And I LOVED it! Man, I must have read that book like a thousand times. I used to devour books–right from an early age. I recall having a serious love for The Famous Five books by Enid Blighton as well as her Amelia Jane series. And when I ran out of books at home, there were two brothers who lived two houses away, and I used to call at their house to pinch their books. They’d go out and play and leave me behind in their bedroom (I always sat on Raymond’s bed) with their book collection. It was awesome. 🙂

  2. I was a voracious consumer of Nancy Drew mysteries. Loved, loved, loved those and wanted a convertible Mustang when I grew up. Prior to that, in my wee years, my mom had me in the Children’s book of the month club and favorites I still remember are: Ping; Sam, Bangs and Moonshine; Mike Mulligan and his steamshovel; The Red Buckle Shoes

  3. Wow. You know, I don’t remember what books anyone read to me, but I read a LOT as a kid (it was one of my chores! Yes, it was). 🙂 I will say that now, with my kids and their stacks and stacks of books, my favorites are the simplest and easiest ones … Dr. Seuss. Yep. Good ole Cat in the Hat. Something about the rhyming in that just always makes me giggle … and my kids too. 🙂 This is an awesome post. 🙂

  4. FOr me as a kid, my favorite by far was Where the Wild Things Are. Although, once I had my own children, the Narnia series took over my reading zen. I would read a chapter each night to my now 20 year old son. I would wager if you asked him, he would consider it one of the fonder memories he had as a kid. (Being the child of a single parent was never easy)

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