The Books We Loved as Children Can Comfort Us at the End
The cartoonist Paul Karasik spent time with his 103-year-old mother, reading the classics, like E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web.”
Paul Karasik is a cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker. He also teaches at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
I have always wanted to read to seniors in a nursing home. My grandmother lost her sight a few years before she died, and I dearly wish I had read to her. What would I read to seniors? Whatever book was their childhood favorite. This recent New York Times article tells me I’m not alone. I have to believe there are many seniors who would love to hear a favorite book read aloud. It’s on my bucket list. Really.
If this were you, what book would you like to hear?
I have so many, and I loved the velveteen rabbit. what a wonderful thing to do
That’s one of my favorite’s too!
The power of those early stories!!
Yes!! Opher I wondered why I haven’t seen any posts from you. I think WP dropped you. Sigh! Will fix that.
To have someone love you enough to sit and read to you. Wonderful! I would ask them for their favourite because that way we would have the best for both of us. But to answer the question HEIDI by Johanna Spyris. I am going to start reading aloud to my husband maybe he will read to me?🤣 We are retired and over 60. Thank you Jennie.
What a great book! I hope you do that with your husband. I think it’s wonderful, too.
Thank you Jennie. 😊
You are welcome!
Wind in the Willows. I read it to my mother on her last day.
Now I’m the one who needs a tissue… 💕
Pyewacket by Rosemary Weir. Think: feline Robin Hood.
That sounds terrific!
That’s a very pleasant thought and a wonderful little sequence. Thanks for sharing it, Jennie.
I’m glad it made you feel good, too. I wonder what book Faith would read to you when you’re over the hill. It’s a hard choice.
I’m thinking “The Twenty Elephant Restaurant.” But maybe “Green Eggs and Ham.”
I love “Green Eggs and Ham”, but I don’t know “The Twenty Elephant Restaurant.” I need to look that up!
Long out of print, I fear, but an amazing book.
I found it on Amazon!!
This is such a wonderful post. My mom lost the ability to read the last few years of her life, so we hired someone to come into the care home and read to her twice a week. Of course, when we visited her, we would read to her as well. When asked what books she would like read to her, she would always say, “One of Darlene´s books.” That still touches me deeply. When I get to that stage, I would want Anne of Green Gables or Little Women read to me.
What a wonderful story, Darlene! You must have been deeply touched. I love your book choices! BTW, I’m getting my granddaughter one of the Amanda books… but which one? Decisions, decisions. 🙂
I was so touched. I do hope your granddaughter enjoys Amanda´s adventure, whichever one you pick. (If she likes dogs, there is a puppy in the Holland book)
I really liked the Holland book. Good choice!
What an incredibly touching story, and so beautifully illustrated by Mr Karasik.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thank you, Pete. I felt exactly the same way. 🙂
What an inspirational post! I loved it. My book would be a Laura Ingalls Wilder Prairie book. Or Willy Wonka. Or…
Thank you, Cindy. Oh, my book might be the same as yours!
Loved the cartoon. I would choose a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.
Thank you, FR. You picked a great book!
This is so sweet. My mother is 95, and in a nursing home. Her eyesight is not good, but thanks to modern technology, she is able to read on her iPad. I’ve often thought of reading to her though. Our shared favourite book is Anne of Green Gables.
Oh, I hope you read Anne of Green Gables to her! There is nothing better than hearing a treasured book read aloud. I think it would mean the world to your mother (and to you.) Please let me know if you read the book to her.
Will do. At the moment, the home is allowing no visitors, so it may be a while.
Fingers crossed it will be soon.
I would want to hear Stellaluna read by my mom. 🙂 Lovely post.
I love that book!
Wonderful story of ‘love, mother/son, books’. I would choose ‘Treasure Island’…
Thank you, Steve. The fact that he read “Charlotte’s Web” to his mother pierced my heart. You picked a terrific book!
What a wonderful idea. I think any of the uplifting classics would be wonderful, or even some with an element of pathos. I’m thinking books like Little Women, anything by Jane Austen, Dickens…
Ooo, I love your book choices! Thank you, Alethea.
You’re welcome 🙂
Great idea, Jennie … and (from what I know of you), a perfect fit for you. Do it!
Thank you, Frank! Yes, I need to do it. Life is short, read aloud.
Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty.”
Early stories are monumental in our development!
Yes, yes, yes!!!
James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, Santa’s Book of Names, oh, there are so many!
Do you know I haven’t got one memory of my Mom reading to me but she must have as she loves books and reading!
You picked terrific books! You also hit a nerve, as my mother never read aloud to her children, yet she was a voracious reader. You are not alone! It wasn’t until I had children and took them to the library (a place I had never been to as a child) that I became the parent who read aloud. Of course that happened at the same time I began teaching preschool, so it exploded in the best of ways.
Jennie, this is a wonderful post… A good friend of mine (age 97) is still at home and I visit often and now call often during pandemic. It reminds me so of our relationship. AND, by the way, I have been thinking about reading in nursing homes for several years now. I do read to adults in my Bible Study Group as often as I am able, often sharing life lessons through some of my favorite picture books. Thanks so much for sharing. 💞 xo
Bette, I’m so glad you have been thinking of doing this, too. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than reading aloud to someone who can’t read. Well, I do it with young children every day, but doing it with someone who has all the memories of good books… that is a gift, and I hope we can be the givers.
Happy Reading every day, my friend!
Indeed! Best to you, Bette!
Great post, Jennie. Like Steve, I would choose Treasure Island
Thank you, John. You and Steve picked a winner!
This is such a great thing to do – you would delight so many people with your animated reading and general enthusiasm!! My grandmother lost her sight a few years ago too and having someone read to her would be so amazing!
I would want to be read “Good Night Moon.” 😊
Thank you, Jen! Honestly, as soon as I can, I want to do this. Yes, I will be all over the place with animation and enthusiasm. Of course “Goodnight Moon” is my hallmark, the book I always recite before chapter reading. 😀
I may have shared this before, but I used to read my mom’s written journals (mostly ordinary things going on in her life) back to her, similar to the cartoon. It didn’t matter what I was reading; it was the act of reading that mattered—the same philosophy as when parents begin reading to their young children.
Darn that’s got me thinking. I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five though they might feel too dated. Molesworth’s How To Be Topp and Whizz For Atoms. Some John Wyndham such As the Day of the Triffids or The Kraken Wakes. Maybe Sherlock Holmes. HG Wells… I was a sci-fi child. On balance its easy really… A Bear Called Paddington…
No book is ever too dated. I knew you would say Paddington Bear! Super choices, Geoff.
Thanks Jennie. And you’re right about being dated
I play the piano and sing to seniors in a day care center. It’s a wonderful experience and brings back many memories for them. Even if they can’t remember my name they remember the songs they sang when they were young.
That is so wonderful!! I certainly believe they remember the songs. I can sing every word of my favorite teenage songs in the 60’s, but often forget something that happened yesterday.
My mom liked to listen to music from her youth while she was in the nursing home.
If someone were to read to me, it seems like it would have to be a book with a lot of action, to keep my interest…
I can guarantee I will be the music queen in the nursing home. You should see me in the classroom when I introduce early Beatles songs.
Maybe you would like to hear a classic book like Treasure Island? Or Harry Potter? I highly recommend The Wild Robot. While it is riveting and geared for older elementary children, your college students would love it. Do you take the last 10 minutes of class to read aloud?
On a side note, I hope you are feeling better. I know your comments have been closed on your posts. I just wanted to tell you that I am the only human in New England who knows and loves the Mummers Day Parade. I teach people how to do the Mummers strut. I hope that makes you smile.
I have not heard of the Wild Robot, but now you’ve got me curious.
I don’t think I could afford using the last ten minutes of class to read, most days I barely have enough time to cover what is on the syllabus…
and thanks, I am feeling better. And I’m not surprised you know about the Mummers!
It is one of the best books I have read. You will love it. The author is Peter Brown.
There is a great article about a Jr. High School teacher in Boston who turned the worst performing school into the best in the city, by having his teachers read aloud for the last 10 minutes of class. College is a whole different ball game… but I had to ask.
I’m so glad you’re feeling better, Jim. I’m way behind on reading bloggers posts, as always. I love the Mummers!!
coming from you, that’s a strong endorsement! I look forward to reading it.
I look forward to hearing how you liked the book.
I will let you know…
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This is a beautiful idea. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Jennie, what a lovely man. Such a thoughtful thing to do for his old mum. I hope my children will read me The Secret Garden and I am David. Those are my favourite favourites.
I hope they do, too! Maybe they’ll also read “Little House on the Prairie” to you. 🙂
Yes, the whole series.
Thank you for sharing this touching story Jennie. ❤
I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🥰
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Thank you, Michael!
They are all new to me, so i can start enthusiastically.:-)) Thanks, Jennie! xx Michael
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