“Mommy, guess what page I’m on?” asked a little voice from the back seat one morning. “I’m on page 50!”
“Wow, honey! Good for you.” I smiled in the rear view mirror at the freckled face with blue eyes and dimples. “What are you reading?”
“Little House in the Big Woods,” she answered. I’d recently given her the Little House series--one of my favorites growing up--and it was fun listening to her describe the stories to me.
“You know, when I was young,” I said, “I always had my nose in a book too.”
She laughed. “Nose in a book? That’s funny, Mommy!”
She’d gone back to school a few weeks before, so she knew the drop-off routine well. When I pulled up to the curb, she unbuckled, then leaned forward for a hug and kiss. As a teacher opened the car door, she said, “Bye, Mommy!” and hopped out.
I took one last look over my shoulder as she walked down the sidewalk toward the building and Mrs. Graham’s first grade class.
My daughter loved first grade but my first grade year was terrible. My teacher, Mrs. Jones, was nothing like sweet Mrs. Graham. Mrs. Jones was old, angry, and scary. I learned very little in her class. It was a long, hard year.
The following summer, our family moved to a better school district. My second-grade teacher, Miss Peggy Baggett, was young and tall with a frosted shag, false eyelashes, and a warm smile. She quickly realized I was behind my classmates in reading and most other subjects.
Miss Baggett worked out a plan with my parents to help me learn to read. At home, I’d sit with Mom on our green carpeted steps and agonize over beginning readers. What a struggle it was! But we read every day, without fail, and Miss Baggett worked with me in class as much as she could.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, I got it. I could read!
From then on, I read everything I could at school. Over the summer, Mom, my sister, and I would go to the library where I’d pick out a pile of books half as tall as I was. I loved being pulled into a character’s life and transported to another place and time.
That love of books and the beauty of story led me to write stories of my own.
When my daughter was born, I filled her life with books. I read to her every day and every evening. One summer day before kindergarten, she surprised me by reading a book to me: Dr. Seuss’ Ten Apples Up on Top. After that, she became a voracious reader too.
Now she is a high school senior. Starting today. The last few weeks, she has been plowing through her summer reading books and all the assignments that are due today.
She no longer sits in my back seat. I don’t drop her off at the curb. She hasn’t read a Little House book in years. Remembering those days sometimes makes me sad and wistful. (Okay—oftentimes.)
But some things haven’t changed, like the freckles, the blue eyes, the dimples. And the other day, I felt like I’d stepped back in time when she came home from her favorite coffee shop and called, “Hey, Mom! Guess what page I’m on?”
Do you like to read? Did you struggle to learn to read or did it come easily for you? What are your favorite books?
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Photo courtesy of Josh Applegate | Unsplash