OWP's Wild Things Discussion discussion

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That hazy, nostalgic glow . . .

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message 1: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 13 comments In the introduction (page xxi), Bruce Handy talks about "that hazy, nostalgic glow" we have about our early, seminal reading experiences. Before we get too far into the book, let's share some of these recollections. What are your memories of reading? What books? Do you think, if revisited, your favorite books from your early years will hold up? Don't feel you have to limit your response to your favorite children's books. I often tell my students that sometimes the right book really has to do with the right time in your life more than anything else.


message 2: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lawson (amandalawson) | 9 comments Growing up, I was not a reader. I always struggled with reading. I was not a fast reader (even now at 31- I am a slow reader), which I feel like put me off from reading for a long time. Plus, I did not grow up in a household of readers. Don't get me wrong, my parents were very supportive, but never once did I see either of them crack open a book. I remember getting excited to go to the library. I liked the experience; all of the books, the opportunities to read about new and exciting places. We rarely went, and when we did, it was to rent DVD's or CD's... haha. That was my life growing up. I'm sure they read me picture books and I remember doing a reading incentive program (Read-at-Home) through Edgewood, but I don't actually remember what I read.

I do vaguely recall being read Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I had fond memories of the book and I knew as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, it was a book that I had to have. My husband thinks it is a creepy tale where the mom is a helicopter mom and breaks into her son's house. I can totally see that perspective, which makes it a little less sincere, but that doesn't stop the waterworks from exploding from my eyes every time I try to read this story to my child.

I honestly feel like my first memories of reading were not until middle school. There were two books that I read, front to back, and for the first time ever- I didn't want to put them down. One I stumbled upon because it was sitting on the end of a bookshelf- A Child Called It by David Pelzer. It was so captivating, traumatizing, and I could not imagine putting myself in his shoes. I don't think I would have had the will to continue in that situation.

The second book that I recall reading was The Diary of Anne Frank. I always had an interest in the Holocaust. Once again, it is one of those topics where it is just unimaginable. How could society let this happen. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know more; I wanted Anne to grow old, get married, have kids, and live the life she deserved! I remember being heartbroken.

Last year, I did reread A Child Called It. I consumed it in one day (which even to this day, is a rarity for me- between work, working out, my child, husband, and responsibilities- it doesn't happen often) and it was just as I had remembered it. I couldn't put it down. It is a horribly tragic tale. This time though, instead of feeling sorry for David, I took on the role of a parent. I imagined my own son and how I would do anything to protect him, to keep him safe, to make sure he is happy. I was furious at his mother, brothers, father, friends, family, and neighbors. How could they stand by and let something like that happen. So in short, the book held up, but my perspective changed. I have not reread The Diary of Anne Frank, but I assume that it would be just as heart wrenching.


message 3: by Julie (new)

Julie | 2 comments I loved the Little House on the Prairie series as a kid, devoured everything by Beverly Cleary then Judy Blume, and wanted to keep an overnight bag in my trunk so I'd be ready for anything like Nancy Drew.
As an adult, the most life changing book for me was A RETURN TO LOVE by Marianne Williamson. My favorite fiction book as an adult is 11/22/63 by Stephen King. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. It is historical fiction, not horror. I can't do horror. The man is a genius!


message 4: by Catherine (new)

Catherine | 12 comments At the beginning of the school year, I always do "History of a Reader" activity, where I talk about some of my favorite books from different times in my life and I explain what they meant to me during that time, and then I have the students do the same. This tells me a lot about what kind of readers I have in my room, and it also helps to get students interested in books they might like to read.
I make sure to include many different books that I read at different ages and for different reasons. The earliest ones that stick out from my childhood are "Dandelion," "The Most Loved Doll" and "There's a Monster at the End of this Book." I share with my kids that it was always the best feeling to get to sit down with my parents before going to bed to read. We would snuggle up in the recliner together and read. My mom and dad were really good at the voices of the characters, so I would eat every word up. I can even remember sitting in my grandparent's screened in porch, in my grandma's green rockers, and reading all of my library books I would bring to share. It was these memories that made me want to become a teacher and share my passion for reading with my students!

The first novel that stands out to me as a favorite is "A Wrinkle in Time." I loved Meg's character as well as the Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. I remember devouring the entire series pretty quickly, enjoying the fantasy elements of the book. After that, I can remember loving the Harry Potter series so much that we would be sure to get the new book the day it was released, and I would stay up late into the night, reading by flashlight long after I was supposed to be asleep!

I know that these favorites from my childhood would still hold up as favorites because I now have started reading some of them to my daughter, and I have enjoyed them just as much as when I was young. Now some of my favorites are also her favorites, which is really special to me as well.


message 5: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay (lorelai1945) | 6 comments I honestly can't remember life before being a reader. The first book I learned to read was The Bike Lesson by Jan and Stan Berenstain. It was hardcover and bright pink and shiny, and I was somewhere in the vicinity of 3-4 years old. There was a beautiful old Carnegie library in the small town where my family lived at the time, and I remember many afternoons of story hour there followed by the search for a fresh stack of books to take home and devour. I loved Reading Rainbow, and would specifically look for books with that foil sticker on the cover. It’s hard to even begin to narrow down a list of favorite or memorable picture books, as I loved everything from The Monster at the End of This Book about Grover from Sesame Street to the Brambly Hedge books (which I own a full set of and still love to pull out from time to time). Lately I rediscovered and realized that Miss Rumphius sums up everything I’ve ever wanted my life to be- full of travel, exploring the world, and making things beautiful. #lifegoals before such a thing existed.
In second grade my mom and I read Anne of Green Gables together. I fell in love with it, and shocked my teacher that year by doing a book report that focused on the part where Anne gets Diana drunk by accident. I loved historical fiction and older children’s novels at that time- the Little House books, The Secret Garden, Heidi, the American Girls books...they took me to places and times I wanted to but couldn’t go or experience. I also loved Nancy Drew and read almost every one of the editions published in the 50’s and 60’s.
By the end of elementary school, though, my interests started to shift. Reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret in secret and volume after volume of The Saddle Club books waiting for Stevie to finally kiss the boy she liked, already!, transitioned me into a period of guilty-pleasure reading to live vicariously through characters navigating the world of puberty, dating, and boys! Sixth grade through 8th grade (and beyond) was not a great time for me for a myriad of reasons. Junior high was at times miserable and awkward, and one of the few times I was happy at school was when I could have study hall in the library and check out books. We had a real-deal card catalog, and somehow it led me to Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt. I’d never read anything quite like it, and it led to me tearing through the Tillerman books as a follow-up.
There have only been a few years here and there in my life where I didn’t read much. My first couple of years of high school were that way. Then Harry Potter happened. I came around to Harry Potter after Goblet of Fire had been published, and became a fangirl of epic proportions. Around that same time, (and while waiting for the subsequent volumes to be published), I read nearly everything Tolkien ever wrote, including The Silmarillion. I would flip back to the indices over and over, making sure I was pronouncing every Elvish word correctly in my mind. I studied the history of Middle-Earth as if I were studying...well, history.
As a young-ish adult person, Jane Austen shook me to the core. My mom had introduced me to the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility when I was in high school, and one by one I finally started reading all of the books in my first years of college. I will never forget reading Persuasion on the worst vacation of my life with the wrong boyfriend, crying on the beach knowing I wanted someone much more like Captain Wentworth to come and find me. This was also around the time that Bridget Jones’s Diary and Confessions of a Shopaholic (and most other of Sophie Kinsella’s) made me feel like someone out there understood me!
Reading has very much shaped me and defined the stages of my life. Looking over this short list of books, I notice a lot of really strong female characters, and I am so thankful they entered my world at the moments when I needed them. In terms of re-reading, I haven’t honestly done much when it comes to chapter books from my childhood. I worry they won’t hold up. Picture books have mostly seemed to, especially the classics and award winners. I make it a point to re-read Harry Potter and Jane Austen and Bridget Jones every few years because they make me so happy and feel like warm blankets to me. To be honest, every time I read I’m looking for the next great love like those are to me. The feelings that a good book can inspire are amazing and magical and life-altering.


message 6: by Karen (new)

Karen Gardner | 6 comments I cannot imagine a childhood without books. My childhood is filled with memories of my mom reading to me. My favorite books were The Monster at the End of this Book, The Big Tidy Up, Amelia Bedelia, Ramona and Beezus, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird.

I will say that I stopped reading children's literature until I had children of my own. When that happened, I was happy to rediscover that I still enjoyed the stories. Reading became even more important as I enjoyed the time I would snuggle with my own kids reading to them. Stories such as Goodnight, Moon, Pajama Time, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Giving Tree, Green Eggs and Ham, and Guess How Much I Love You became part of our family.

I am excited to read Wild Things and hear what everyone has to share.


message 7: by Krista (new)

Krista Hill | 6 comments My earliest memories of being read to as a child are of when all 5 or 6 of us kids, (eventually 7 although much later), would sit on the floor beside, on top of, or behind on the couch with my dad, who was also on the floor and read stories from our beloved Junior Classics set. He had his own favorites to read to us, one being "The Hobiyahs," (not sure of my spelling!) which were these crazy little creatures. We would beg him to reread it again and again. It was warmth and laughter and love all the way around. I couldn't have been more than 4 or 5.

My next memory is of when I was around 2nd or 3rd grade, and I would lay on the couch and read all afternoon, completely oblivious to my surroundings. I'm not sure of the title anymore, but one chapter book about the life of Helen Keller, I read and reread again and again. I am deaf in one ear because of a birth defect, and I know that I just related to her and her life in such a personal way.

In fifth grade, I had a teacher who "required" us to read from a series of biography books that she had in the classroom. We were to read "X" amount in each quarter of school, and do reports on them. I HATED those books. They did not interest me in the slightest. I would read the back cover and write my report from that.

After that, I was reading much of what my older brother was handing me. I read a lot of Isaac Asimov, and was reading things way beyond my years in jr. high like "The Fountainhead."

In my freshman year of college, we read "The Lord of the Rings" in freshman English. I had never read them and devoured them. I also had to read "Moby Dick." I actually read it. I sat down every free minute I had between classes to read.

I think it was because of that 5th grade teacher that I really learned to look for what I am interested in when choosing books. Today, I read a lot of history and historical fiction. Reading is my escape and I love it!


message 8: by Christene (new)

Christene Alfonsi | 9 comments My earliest memories of reading are stereotypically picture-perfect: my mom stayed home with me and read to me every day. My most vivid early memory is opening a book my grandmother mailed to me for my third birthday. "I Am A Kitten" was the title, and it was the first book I "read" on my own--really, I memorized it from my mom reading it so often.

I moved on to the beloved children's books of my 1970s youth: the Beverly Cleary books, all the Judy Blume books--from the more innocent "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" to the secret scandals of "Forever" by early middle school, the Little House on the Prairie series, my treasure trove of Nancy Drew mysteries, "Charlotte's Web," "Little Women," the Wrinkle in Time series...I could go on with this list.

"Charlotte's Web" and "Little Women" have held up the most for me as an adult reader. The stories, the characters, the craft and structure--all things I've enjoyed revisiting multiple times as an adult. I've reread the Little House books, and I'm much more conflicted about these: I still love the characters, but the plight of Native Americans is too troubling and too absent as an adult in the twenty-first century.


message 9: by Karen (new)

Karen Gardner | 6 comments Amanda,
I read A Child Called It and all of Pelzer's following books as an adult. I remember not being able to put them down. I couldn't believe how horribly David was treated. Because of that book, I was a founding board member and continue to help a nonprofit organization that helps children in foster care. It is one of those books that sticks with you and calls you to action.


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