Does this need to be said? But how do I let 365 days fill up with gratitude without acknowledging the necessary-as-blood-and-water place of books in my life? My grandfather always said I had better be buried with a book in my hands or God wouldn’t recognize me at the Golden Gates. I saw a business card yesterday with the job title “Professional Reader.” How do I get THAT job? Books–in all of their forms–are the way I educate myself, my pathway to new ideas, my best source of humor, the way I travel, and the way I find beauty. I AM GRATEFUL FOR BOOKS!
I am a member of two book clubs. One reads and discusses books for children and teens. The other reads books about people who have grown up differently than I have, perhaps in another country or another neighborhood or another religion or another political ideology. The purposes of these book clubs might seem very different, but they both open my mind. They give me a group of people, seldom like-minded, with whom I can discuss Big Ideas and small details, try out my new understandings, and LEARN because the others have experiences I don’t. Sometimes, my feelings about a book or a topic take a 180º turn. I find great value in this. I am grateful for the opportunities to have open and honest discussions where people are considerate and respectful. These conversations are life-affirming. These book clubs give me hope.
I am grateful for tidbits. You know, the odd fact that you pick up when you’re reading a book. It often has nothing to do with the book you’re reading, but the author slips it in because (I suspect) they learned this fact and wish to share it. Today I learned that Beatrix Potter believed in putting a hard word in each of her books so the child would have to go and talk with their parents. Tidbits often send me on a detailed search: is this fact true? I haven’t found those exact words but I did find a quote that said, “Children like a fine word occasionally.” In the meantime, I’ve learned even more about Beatrix Potter, which is akin to the child asking about the hard word. Thanks to the authors who include tidbits in their books.
(You’ll enjoy “Happy birthday, Beatrix Potter: the Author’s Legacy 150 Years On,” Nicholas Tucker, The Guardian, 28 July 2016. image below: A picture by Quentin Blake for The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. Illustration from the article: courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co and the V&A Museum)
A new batch of review books is piling up on my desk. Their topics are irresistible: voting rights, resiliency, the well-researched similarities between humans and other animals … topics that call for our attention in this weary world and surely cause concern and confusion among our children. I am grateful for this children’s literature community that listens, researches, and shares the truth in such a caring way. You are priceless! (pictured: a sampling of the many, many authors and illustrators who do their best for the children of the world)
My world spins on an axis of storytelling. In every part of my life, it is the stories that bring people together. It is the stories that keep the love, laughter, and hard work flowing. It is the stories people have told that I remember, calling each one of them up to relish as needed. It is the stories that I hold close to me because they provide connection, understanding, and mysteries to ponder. I am grateful to the storytellers, each and every one of you.
I’ve been privileged to see and read a copy of this book before publication. If you’re looking for the ideal shower or baptism or toddler birthday present, this is it. The author, Catherine Thimmesh, is giving previews of the book on the Babies Love Books Facebook page. I am grateful for Catherine’s brain … she writes about the most amazing subjects, usually things I had no knowledge about before. And she does so in a way that makes the information easy to understand. Her talents as a nonfiction author are outstanding.
Who would have guessed that I was reading the same books Salman Rushdie was reading at about the same time? I am grateful to Kurt Vonnegut for writing the books that so deeply formed my feelings about war and reality. And I am grateful to Rushdie who so vividly reminds me why these books marked me. Rushdie writes, “It tells us that most human beings are not so bad, except for the ones who are, and that’s valuable information. It tells us that human nature is the one great constant of life on earth, and it beautifully and truthfully shows us human nature neither at its best nor at its worst but how it mostly is, most of the time, even when the times are terrible.”
I am grateful that I am a reader. For all of the people who showed me the way, thank you. For all of the readers who recommend books, thank you. I’m going to share a list of the books I’m reading right now. Each one has a bookmark poking out of it. I’m a Gemini; I like variety. I check out many of my books from the public library as e-books, so I don’t have a photo of all the physical books to share with you. Some of these are review copies that I’m reading for work, but reading seldom feels like work to me. How about you? Which books are you reading right now? I’ll be grateful to know.
Cat’s Guide to the Night Sky, Stuart Atkinson
Camp Panda, Catherine Thimmesh
Fresh Ink: an Anthology, ed. Lamar Giles
Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright
Time Sight, Lynne Jonell
Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Gleeson-White
Hope Never Dies: an Obama-Biden Mystery, Andrew Shaffer
Platters and Boards, Shelly Westerhausen
Undaunted, Anita Silvey
Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs #3), Jacqueline Winspear
Writing the Cozy Mystery, Nancy J. Cohen
Mighty Salads, Food 52
I live in a Confluence of Creativity that inspires me every day. The people who work with children’s books, creating them, teaching them, promoting them, putting them in the right child’s hands … they are dedicated to being creative. It fills me with awe when I hold a book, when I hear a teacher’s enthusiasm for a book they’re reading out loud to their class, when I observe a librarian telling a book’s story with puppets and suggestions of scenery. This is creativity … and we’re blessed when the next generation is inspired to follow in their creative footprints.
I recently re-read the first six Trixie Belden books. I gobbled up these books when I was reading at age 10 and 11. I read only one Nancy Drew book. My cousin had a collection and I read about Nancy while I was visiting. I couldn’t see myself in her. But Trixie Belden? She had a large family and I was an only child. She was insatiably curious and didn’t necessarily listen when someone told her no. Reading the books again all these years later? They hold up. I found myself trying hard to solve the mysteries before Trixie did. I was surprised by how often the boys told the girls what they couldn’t do because they were girls. But the girls didn’t listen. More thoughts about the context of history. I’m grateful to Julie Campbell Tatham for creating Trixie … just for me.