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.
I am grateful for the writing, leadership, and example that Anita Silvey has been for my life. I have long admired her books about children’s literature, the excellence of The Horn Book magazine under her editorial leadership, and her ability to hold an audience enrapt. In recent years, I have been encouraged by her example of focusing on the writing of nonfiction for young readers and especially her books about women scientists. Her biography of Pete Seeger, another one of my heroes, is the best I’ve ever read. Anita is a class act and an extraordinary woman.
Have I mentioned how grateful I am for the school librarians who give their hearts, minds, creativity, and problem-solving prowess to the students in their schools? Last night we celebrated the years of librarianship Randy Klauk has provided to the elementary school students in one of the Minneapolis suburbs. From the way their books are shelved, to reading out loud dramatically, to the children who have been turned into lifelong readers, to his dedication to bringing authors in to share their work with his kids … Randy cares deeply. As he retires, we let him know how thankful we are. To all of the school librarians out there who lead children to the love of books, we admire you!
I am grateful for e-books. There. I’ve said it. I normally keep that quiet because I feel like I’m betraying The Readerhood. I have my reasons. I am a Constant Reader. Before, when we drove to a meeting where we might have to wait for 20 minutes or an hour, I took three books along. Now I take my tablet which holds at least 20 books I haven’t read yet. I’m able to read ARCs and PDFs instead of hauling around a sheaf of 300 pieces of paper. Highlighting passages and making notes in the e-book satisfies my need to be organized, preparing for articles I’m writing. And, having become a fitful sleeper, I can read myself back to sleep in the middle of the night without disturbing my favorite sleeper. I still enjoy the smell and feel of a printed book. Most of my e-books come from the library. Can I still be part of The Readerhood?
When I started working at the public library when I was 16, shelving books and magazines opened my world. I was attracted to The New Yorker by the cover art. I’ve been reading the magazine ever since then. I am especially grateful when the covers pay homage to books, reading, and libraries.
We need an intervention. This morning on KARE-11 Sunrise, co-host Kris Laudien once again spoke of his disregard for books and reading. The discussion was about distracted driving and people who read books while they’re behind the wheel. Our disconnected host said, “I didn’t think people even read books any more.” Oh, Mr. Laudien, this does not do good things for you nor does it reinforce positive support for reading, one of the basic fundamentals to success in life. There are so many people in important places showing that they read, reading to children, speaking up in support of reading … and I am grateful for those people. How do we turn this guy around?
It will be Maud Hart Lovelace’s birthday on April 25th, next Thursday. I started reading her books in grade school. As I grew older, so did her characters Betsy, Tacy, Tib, and the Gang. As an only child who moved to new homes frequently, I cherished her stories of family and friends. I didn’t realize Deep Valley was really a city in my state (Mankato) or that her characters were modeled on real people–not until I was much older. I have read everything she published and much of what other people have written about her. My favorite book is Emily of Deep Valley, a book about immigrants, compassion, and friendship. Which book is your favorite? You haven’t read her books? Children will want to start with the younger books; adults will want to begin with the high school books. No matter your age–you have a treat in store.