I have two stories to tell; both happened on the same day this week, yet they are fourteen years apart. Every year my last chapter reading book at school is Little House on the Prairie. Here is what happened:
Story One: My school’s annual presentation of a college scholarship to a former student happened this week. Martha, the recipient, was a preschooler in my class, way back when. As her winning essay was read aloud, these were her some of her words:
“I have been fortunate to grow up in an environment where a love of learning was instilled in me from a young age. Between my mom and Jennie, adults read out loud to me multiple times a day. They also encouraged me to ask questions and to be a curious learner, which led directly to my success in high school.”
Martha and Jennie…now
Martha was the quiet one, the child who “took it all in”. Questions? Bursting with things to say? Not really. But, oh how she listened! I never underestimate the brain of a child. What goes in builds and grows, like all those words from chapter reading.
I thanked and congratulated Martha. And then her Mother said, “Jennie, don’t you remember? You didn’t finish reading Little House on the Prairie, and you told me I needed to finish reading the book to Martha. I did. That started reading aloud and chapter books.”
Martha is headed to an outstanding college, Trinity College in Connecticut, among the best. She has been a volunteer at school, and in her college essay she said:
“I have always adored children and believe that I am able to connect with them, so for the past few years I have volunteered at the preschool I once attended. As I read to the students during rest time, I love seeing how excited they become to see what happens next. I know how important it is to read to young children, but now I know its value firsthand.”
Martha and Jennie…then
Story Two: Aaryan is not a Martha. He constantly asks questions and has something important to say at chapter reading. He verbalizes all he remembers with great excitement. We were reading the chapter of Pa going to town, close to three-quarters of the way through Little House on the Prairie. Pa’s neighbor, Mr. Edwards, came over to help Ma with the chores while Pa was away. Immediately Aaryan said, “Is he the ‘wildcat from Tennessee’?” My goodness! That phrase to describe Mr. Edwards was ages ago in the book and only mentioned one time. I threw back my head and belly-laughed. “Yes, Aaryan. Mr. Edwards is the ‘wildcat from Tennessee’.” Remarkable.
I told the children we would not be able to finish reading the whole book. What! That did not go over well. I took a positive spin, reading ahead all the upcoming chapters, like Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Clause.
“You can get the book from the library. Your Mom and Dad can read the rest of the book to you.”
That did not go over well, either. Especially with Aaryan. We talked together. My words could not soothe him. He has experienced what all readers feel when reading a good book. I think for those children who hear the words, the feelings are even more powerful. It happens in my class, all the time.
Perhaps fourteen years from now Aaryan’s Mother will say the same words to me that Martha’s Mother said; “Jennie, don’t you remember…?” Perhaps she’ll tell me the same story Martha’s Mother told me. Perhaps ending the school year with an open book is a good thing. An open book is an open door.
“An open book is an open door.” I agree! Lovely stories.
Thank you! 🙂
Just such a remarkable story in your post.
I was captivated wanting to see how this ended too…
Thank you for an enjoyable post 💐
You are welcome, Di. 🙂
So nice to see the passage of time, from young reader to college girl. A real vindication of your ethos. I never even heard of that book until the TV series started over here. I watched it occasionally, and could see that every episode was a morality tale. Perhaps UK schools should think about including it in their reading lists? (Maybe they do, I wouldn’t know of course.)
Best wishes, Pete.
Interesting that the book series is really not a morality tale. TV does it’s own thing. Thank you for reading, Pete, and for your kind words.
That’s interesting to know the difference, Jennie.
Hello Jennie, this is such a wonderful post. I read parts of these same books to my Sunday School class last year and some of them really loved it and went on to read it by themselves. I is so nice when you feel like you have made a difference to a child.
Two great stories. I remember buying books for summer vacation from the Scholastic Book Club. The hard part was saving one for our family trip, usually in July. Sometimes, I was rereading.
You do these children a great service. To be remembered, after 14 years, is remarkable.
Thank you, Dan! BTW, Scholastic Books is still going strong.
That’s amazing. I remember marking all the ones I wanted and then negotiating with my mom. I would have to cut my list, at least in half. She would remind me that I could get the popular ones at the library.
So much proof that what you do makes a difference. For a child to want to hear the end of a story shows his curiosity has been fired. Nothing could be more important.
You are so right, Marlene. Nothing is more important. Thank you!
Jennie, I was not surprised by Aaryan’s response. I recognized my daughter when she was that way and she is an avid reader to this day! What a beautiful heartfelt post, Jennie, thank you! Karen
Thank you, Karen. I’m not surprised that Aaryan could have been your daughter. Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂
What a lovely post, Jennie! And may I just say that you haven’t changed one but over the years! You look so radiant and happy in both pics! 😄 I love the Laura Ingalls books and I think it’s a brilliant idea to end the school year with an open book! You encourage the children and their parents equally by doing that. But poor little Aaryan, so devastated. I hope his parents will get him the book soon!
Ha-ha! So nice you think I haven’t changed, Sarah. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I had always felt badly that I could not get through the entire book, but now I see it is a blessing in disguise. Definitely an open door. Aaryan’s Mother will read him the book.
I´m so happy his mother promised to do that, he will be so happy! 🙂 You know, your reading somehow brings to mind a beautiful domino effect where your words sow the seeds for wanting more books with each word passing your lips 🙂
Awww… that is so nice, Sarah. Thank you! 😊
You´re very welcome, Jennie! 🙂 Have a happy Day! ❤
Oops! That was meant to be “bit ” and not “but” 😉
Love your post. I loved the Little House books and dug through my local library to read them all. Laura’s daughter Rose Wilder Lane published the last few, including her diary.
Thank you so much! I’m glad this resonated with you. They’re such great books! My Grandmother was born the same year as Rose, and has the same name, too. Now, if that doesn’t bring history to life!
Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
Jennie has gifted us with two touching stories from her classroom experiences reading to children. I love them and you will too! Please, read on…
Thank you, John!
Jennie, This is a wonderful and heart-warming post!
Thank you, Charles!
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
This is another wonderful example of excellent teaching from Jennie.
Thank you, Charles.
Lovely, heart-warming post. TY for the experience.
Thank you, Rae!
Your last paragraph gave me shivers. Wonderful xx
Thank you, Christy. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
Excellent closing. And so true.
Like actors on an actual stage, there is nothing like being read to… and I don’t know what that secret is, except the intimate “surprise” to the brain of hearing human speech from the outside in!
You are exactly right. When the brain hears words, it makes pictures and remembers vocabulary. Good literature has the words already written, ready for a reader to read them aloud. The secret is reading with a ‘voice’, yet that happens naturally when the reader-aloud knows how good the words are, and can’t wait to deliver them to children. Make sense?
It does… you can’t hide passion from children, the Sponge-People of our narrow little world who may darn well be inspired to change it for the better…all because they remember a quiet morning and a teacher reading a book she loves aloud…
Thank you, KC. 😊
Such wonderful connections you make through the years. You must have been thrilled to hear Martha’s essay read aloud. I agree, unfinished stories are a perfect way to have parents pick up the ball at the start of each summer. Great post Jennie!
Thank you, Marcia. I was stunned to hear Martha’s essay. It was a moment! The connections keep growing. And yes, leaving a book unfinished might be the best thing, ever. A good way to encourage summer reading and beyond.
Jennie, Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. I can’t wait to read “Little House on the Prairie” with Aaryan. This school year we have read aloud over a couple of dozen chapter books to Aaryan. This all started with inspiration from talking with you and how much he enjoys chapter reading. Saurabh, Aaryan and I love escaping on adventures whether it is in Zuckerman’s barn, a voyage across the seas with Doctor Dolittle or with the brave Elmer Elevator to rescue the baby flying dragon. “Just ONE more chapter! … please” happens most nights. We are so grateful that you have instilled the love of reading at such young age in Aaryan and all his friends. I too hope that he follows Martha’s steps and comes back to GCS to volunteer in the summer and read aloud to curious little kids just like him.
Thank you for your words and your wonderful Aaryan story, Purvi. I think it is the best part of the day, and Aaryan does, too. 🙂 I can see him as a Martha years down the road.
Oh how I love these stories of then and now. ♥ They are the best! Unfinished books with good parents will work out, Jennie. I wasn’t able to finish “The Yearling” with my sixth graders back in 1980. I hope somewhere along the way in their life half of them found the book and discovered the ending. 🙂
Even better would be if a quarter of them read this to their own middle school children. I read to my own three children every night except Fri and Sat nights. Two girls learned how to appreciate “boy” books and my son learned how to like ponies, babysitter and Judy Blume books. 🙂
This really helped prepare him for fathering two girls and a stepdaughter (plus a baby boy and stepson). Yup, five sweet kids in his combination family. 💞
I love your story! I can just see you and your children, and you and your sixth graders. I think a quarter of the class is just about
Yes, it is nice to have someone who doesn’t mind my reminiscing as well as relating to some of your own experiences. 🙂
It’s wonderful! 🙂
It is so extra nice! 😊
Thanks so much! I hope so! I heard a few letters from my sixth graders but my husband got a transfer and I had to break my teaching contract. It made me sad, but I did enjoy babysitting a little boy while Carrie was a baby.
When I left preschool special needs area, many more parents were wonderful and came to my “retirement” party. 🙂 Take care, Jennie. 📖 🎆
Wonderful, Robin! 🙂
…is just about right. Means you did a great job and made an impact. 🙂
Oh, are you a clever teacher.
Thank you, Ellen. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
Very much so.
a timeless classic!