I just saw an article on the blog of Publisher’s Weekly, a national book-industry publication, asking the question about the first book that made us fall in love with reading.
For me, books like Profiles in Courage by JFK, Homer Price about a doughnut-making machine, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Five Chinese Brothers and Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables were what turned me onto the very different worlds to which reading invited me. My wife remembers reading The Little Engine That Could as inspiring her to continue through during times of adversity throughout her life. For my kids, books like The Giving Tree, The Velveteen Rabbit, the Madeline and the Frog and Toad book series and The Story of Ferdinand were opportunities to just relish in the moment to get away from media and celebrate a world through the joy of the written word.
Other Franciscan Media colleagues pointed to the Nancy Drew mysteries (as one’s dad was a detective), the Bobbsey Twins, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstockings, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, The Phantom Tollbooth, Curious George, Corduroy, Wind in the Willows and The Indian in the Cupboard.
Franciscan Media’s Can You Find Saints?: Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women and Can You Find Followers of Jesus?: Introducing Your Child to Disciples are yet two other children’s favorites that mixes the joy of reading with faith. Pete and Repeat: Can You Spot the Differences? draws together a number of panels from the favorite puzzle of St. Anthony Messenger magazine for all ages. This fall and in time for Christmas, look for our Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing by Amy Welborn and artist and illustrator Ann Kissane Englehart, a wonderful story for children ages 7 to 10 about sharing, comfort, generosity and forgiveness.
While we remember fondly those times of reading with our parents and siblings growing up or even now with our children, reading for young people is much more than a pastime. It is an opportunity to share something more significant – a chance to experience whole new ways of seeing, of people and things quite different from us, of the texture of words and ideas, of values getting played out and the time taken to explore, think and talk about those, of sharing the ability to create new worlds in our expanding and opening minds.
It may have been the most important time as a parent I spent to invite my kids into this new world that reading provides. Both of my adult and married children are voracious readers on subjects far away from their chosen fields of employment, still exploring new ideas and new ways of thinking. Now I have the chance to share that gift of reading with my grandchildren. What a gift to them. What a gift to me.
What books made a difference in your life growing up?
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