The Right Book at the Right Time

Guest blogger and book-loving mama Heather Wray talks about her favourite childhood books and how the right book at the right time can encourage children to become lifelong readers. 

Books

When my grandfather was preparing to move into a retirement residence, he gave me a small trunk which held some of his most treasured possessions: my grandmother’s wedding dress, his silver baby spoon, and three 19th century volumes of The Works of Charles Dickens. Inside one of the books, in youthful fountain penmanship, is inscribed my great-great-grandfather’s name.

Now you can walk into any library or bookstore and grab a copy of Nicholas Nickleby, and so the fact that these books have been in the family for over a century indicates that the physical item can be just as valuable to a person as the words on its pages. It is said that if children connect with the right book—one that captures their interest and imagination—at the right time, they will become lifelong readers. Were these volumes the “right” books for my great-great grandfather?

I think back to some of the books I first read—books I still have—and they are very much like old friends.  Many were read several times, and some contain birthday wishes from the relatives who gave them to me. Books like The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables  introduced me to worlds and times beyond my own.  They offered an escape and an understanding of what it is to be lonely, to struggle, to overcome.  The Velveteen Rabbit comforted me when my favourite stuffed bunny disappeared in the hospital after a case of appendicitis. And then there was Nancy Drew – a strong female character who always prevailed in the end.

Do I expect my descendants to keep these books forever? No. They will have their own treasures that will be meaningful to them. However, I do love revisiting stories I think my kids will enjoy and reading with them. With their yellowed pages and well-worn spines, these books reflect a simpler time. I read my first e-book this summer and loved it, but there is truly nothing like the all-sensory experience of snuggling up with little ones and turning the pages together. They laugh at the funny parts and widen their eyes at the suspenseful ones, and I’m fairly certain I will never throw those books away.

Book Labels

 

Book Labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Alert! We’re giving away a set of Book Labels  from Mabel’s Labels! To enter, simply leave a comment letting us know what your favourite book as a child was. Winner will be announced on August 21, 2012.

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Ten years ago Heather made one of the best decisions of her life when she went back to school to become a librarian. She currently works in a public library and has a passion for connecting people in her community with the resources they need. She shares her life with her husband, a son and daughter, and a guinea pig named Snowy. Her children have taught her more than any book ever could.

Heather blogs about her experience raising a child with Down syndrome and the resources that are helping her along at  www.downsyndromeresourceconnection.com

 

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25 Responses to “The Right Book at the Right Time”

  1. Carrie

    Love this! So many of my childhood books hold so many memories…

    -Roald Dahl takes me back to the reading couch in my grade 2 classroom
    -Lucy Maud Montgomery I used to sneak in with me to read during church
    -Nancy Drew I always got in trouble for reading the book in my lap when I was supposed to be paying attention in class!
    -the Swallows and Amazons series my dad used to read to me long after I would have ever admitted to my friends that I was ‘read to’ and it’s the first book I cracked open to read to my son when he was barely a few weeks old.

    You’re right…while I love my e-reader, I can’t imagine curling up with the kids for bedtime with anything other than a real book

    Reply
  2. My Favourite book

    Oh my favourite book was definitely Winnie the Pooh. My mother used to read this book to me and I read it to my children. My Grandchildren will be sure to get to know this book soon.

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    The Velveteen Rabbit was also a favourite book of mine. I was given a rabbit puppet with super soft ears, the kind that seem to get softer the more you rub them. :) I still have the book and the puppet!

    Reply
    • Heather

      That’s fabulous – I didn’t read a lot of Roald Dahl as a kid, but I’ve enjoyed them with my son!

      Reply
  4. conchita

    favourite series was “le club des cinq” – i think the fab 5 in english, by enid blyton. :) i also had a favourite fables of lafontaine book that i absolutely adored when i was even younger.

    Reply
  5. Ellie

    My most vivid book memory is of reading Jane Eyre, although I was about 15 at the time. I didn’t come out of my room for a whole weekend, I was so absorbed in it. It was definitely the “right time” for that book. I recently tried reading it again and couldn’t get into it. Funny. Perhaps one’s interest in gothic melodrama peaks as an adolescent. Still it is a classic.

    Reply
    • Heather

      Yes, and that was such a beautiful edition too – I loved the cover. (I’m assuming this comment is by my sister Ellie!)

      Reply
  6. Mary Heenan

    Oh, Anne of Green Gables and Little House, for sure. And Charlotte’s Web — I was so excited to find that left behind by the teacher on the very first day I supply taught!

    I still have my boxed set of the Chronicls of Narnia; my 13 year old has read them all, including a much dog-eared, pages loose from the binding because it has been read so often copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    Reply
    • Heather

      Narnia is fantastic – I read my boxed set with my son and he loved them as well!

      Reply
  7. Susan Ovington

    My all time favourite book was Charlotte’s Web by E.B White I remember several years ago walking into a bookstore and finding it, it was like I was 9 again. Awesome feeling.
    My second favourite book was in a series, “Little House On the Prairie” I wish I had lived during that time!

    Reply
    • Heather

      I was the same Susan… totally wanted to have a life like Little House when I grew up. Now I don’t know what I’d do without my computer and digital camera ;)

      Reply
  8. Laura Mitchell- Collier

    The Secret Garden, for sure!! My original copy found a new home as we travelled back to Ontario from Alberta when I was 12. I did pick up a new copy when my Sophie was born, read it again and stashed it for her to enjoy when she is older – may or may not be her favourite :)
    Great blog Heather!!!

    Reply
  9. Christina

    My favorite as a child was Charlotte’s Web by EB White or Matilda by Roald Dahl. I am now reading them out loud to my 5 year old and we are both loving them! :)

    Reply
  10. Alex Allan

    My favourite childhood book was Ms Glee Was Waiting by Donna Hill. It’s all about a girl who tries a various forms of transport to get to her piano lesson. The book was a gift after my first year of piano lessons. As an adult, however, I have two books that my students ask me to read and re-read. First, my students love the picture book, Edwina the Emu by Sheena Knowles. The second book is The Trolls by Polly Horvath. Students moan when we come to the end of a chapter and they have to wait a few days for the next.

    Reply
    • Heather

      That first book sounds adorable… will have to make note of the ones your students like! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  11. Karen Gordon

    Heather, I love your article. When I was teaching grade ten high school English to a room full of individuals who would rather have been anywhere else, the lesson that always seemed to ‘hook’ them, involved creating a kind of retrospective reading journey. Suddenly, the room would be alive with chit chat about many beloved children’s books and associated cherished memories. It was my favorite lesson. And when it was my turn to tell my own book memory, I spoke about being given a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl, in the summer before grade four. I wasn’t sure if I could read it to be honest, but I thought, if Aunt Carol thinks I can, then I will! And I did! And I loved every single crazy chant of the oompa loompa, Charlie’s triumph and my own for having read it through to the end. And at that point, I became hooked! I wish I actually had that original copy, the way you have your Grandfather’s books. Those are indeed treasures. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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