Words, Wonderful Words…

Winnie the Pooh stories are among the few classics that should be read as a child and also as an adult. The messages and tender words ‘stick’. The characters are beloved.

I was thrilled to discover the book, “Finding Winnie”, by Lindsay Mattick.

This is the true story of Winnie the Pooh, the bear that became famous in WWI before he went to the London zoo.  It is captivating, with real photos and beautiful illustrations.  The reader is immediately drawn to the soldier Harry Colebourn on the train in Canada to fight in the war, and finding a bear cub.

Joy Lennick’s delightful post opens the door to author A.A. Milne, his son, and Pooh’s many animal companions. The ending is some of the best words in the stories. These quotes have become words to live by.

Joy Lennick

Trinity-College-Library-in-Dublin-1Every now and then I pontificate on the power and magic of words. Those twenty-six little letters have faithfully served us ever since “Adam” said Ugg to “Eve.” And, in what variety! True and Fairy tales… Sci-Fi and Paranormal, Murder and Mystery, Love and Romance, Historical, et al – all cater to different literary tastes.

Milne 3What led to writing today’s post was reading about Alan Alexander Milne and his Pooh stories. The House on Pooh Corner (1928), and Winnie the Pooh in particular. Without Milne, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and the rest of the gang, would have been lost to so many fans. Christopher Robin, Pooh’s human companion, was named after Milne’s own son. Sadly, Christopher was not happy about his inescapable connection to the popular books as he grew older. Winnie the Pooh was based on his teddy bear. Also on his infant bed, were a stuffed piglet, a tiger…

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Quote of the day

I never understood poetry when I was in school. It wasn’t until I had children and discovered Shel Silverstein that the importance of words scripted in poetry opened a door. I must have read aloud to them Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” a hundred times. Poetry is a powerful force, in the best of ways. Joseph Brodsky’s incredible quotation is a testament to that. Thank you M.C. Tuggle for bringing Brodsky’s quotation to your readers.

M.C. Tuggle, Writer

Joseph Brodsky

“By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman, or the charlatan. In other words, it forfeits its own evolutionary potential. For what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. Poetry is not a form of entertainment and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but it is our anthropological, genetic goal. Our evolutionary, linguistic beacon.”

Joseph Brodsky

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Fourth of July

Someone in the family is very talented!

Happy Fourth of July!


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Happy Birthday, America

Happy Birthday, America.
This flag was flown over the Navy Memorial
in Washington DC.
Proud to be an American,
one nation, one people,
with freedoms I will never take for granted.



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Underground Library Society


What would you do if a beloved book, rich in meaning and literature, were to be banned, gone forever? Would you vow to memorize the book in order to save it? I would. When Charles French, a professor of English Literature, formed a society at Lehigh University in his English 2 class for the purpose of appreciating all books – especially those that have been banned over the years – I knew this was more than a brilliant idea. Much like the storyline in Fahrenheit 451, the members of the U.L.S. (Underground Library Society) pick a book to save, if books were banned.


The society has now grown well beyond the boarders of Lehigh. I chose to champion classic children’s books. Thank you for including me in the U.L.S. I am giving a shoutout to readers to become a member and tell the world about your favorite  book, and why you would save it, if it were banned. Here is my story, in two parts:

First, I picked a banned book, The Story of Little Babaji.  You may be familiar with the original title, Little Black Sambo.  


The book was written by Helen Bannerman in 1899 after her many years in India.  Who doesn’t remember the tigers running around the tree and turning into butter!    Unfortunately the story has been rewritten over the years depicting the South and blacks.  That wasn’t the original intention of the author.  Most importantly, it is a wonderful book, a classic.  It needs to be preserved, and I vow to do that.

Secondly, I must step up to the plate and vow to memorize and preserve Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White.  This book is most important.  It encompasses all that is meaningful: friendship, overcoming fear, acceptance of others, learning about the world and the marvels of nature, hard work, bravery, life and death, promises… it’s a long list, and a good list.


The beauty of Charlotte’s Web comes from learning about the world, and about every feeling that is important in order to grow into a good person.  Goodness and knowledge, all on a farm.

Every year I start chapter reading with my preschool class on ‘day one’.  And, the first book I read is Charlotte’s Web.  In barely three weeks of school children are totally hooked.  They adore Wilbur and laugh at the goose repeating words three times.  They trust Charlotte. They have met Templeton the rat, and learned of Wilbur’s fate.  When Charlotte’s demise looked imminent in the hands of Avery’s big stick, there were gasps.

I read to three and four-year-olds about the beauty of life and the fear of death, about morals (and lack thereof), and about friendships (and lack thereof).  That sounds pretty sophisticated for preschoolers, but leave it to the beautifully crafted words of E.B. White.

Twilight settled over Zuckerman’s barn, and a feeling of peace.  Fern knew it was almost suppertime but she couldn’t bear to leave.  Swallows passed on silent wings, in and out of the doorways, bringing food to their young ones.  From across the road a bird sang “Whippoorwill, whippoorwill!”  Lurvy sat down under an apple tree and lit his pipe; the animals sniffed the familiar smell of strong tobacco.  Wilbur heard the trill of a tree toad and the occasional slamming of the kitchen door.  All these sounds made him feel comfortable and happy, for he loved life, and loved to be part of the world on a summer evening.

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked.  I don’t deserve it.  I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte.  “That in itself is a tremendous thing.  I wove my webs for you because I liked you.  After all, what’s a life, anyway?  We’re born, we live a little while, we die.  A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies.  By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle.  Heaven knows, anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

These are the the words, stories, and ideals in a book that needs to never be forgotten.  Charlotte’s Web is important to everyone, adults and children alike.  I never tire of reading this book aloud.  Children love it, as do adults.  This classic book will be my contribution to the Underground Library Society.


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Today’s Quote

Vincent van Gogh not only painted beautifully, he spoke of love and strength. Thank you Theresa for posting van Gogh’s Starry Night and his quotation.

Soul Gatherings

It is good to love many things,
for therein lies the true strength.

~ Vincent van Gogh ~

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Locked On


Look at our eyes.
The words I’m reading are terrific.
Landon is hearing every word.
I can’t say enough, and he can’t hear enough.

We’re locked on.

Reading aloud is powerful, in the best of ways.


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End of the School Year

The end of the school year is always fast, furious, and fun.
Emotions run wild, both with children and teachers.

The week started with visits to every child’s house.
How cool is that, to have your teacher come to your house.

We painted rocks and read a story.

We laughed, cried, told “Remember when…” stories
from school, and shared gifts.

Landon gave me an Eric Carle thank you book.

Charlotte painted a beautiful picture with a note,
“Dear Jennie, I love when you read me books.
And I love drawing with you.
I miss eating yogurt at lunch with you.
Love, Charlotte.”

We had a final Zoom with children and families.
They wanted teachers to open a gift from the Aqua Room.
Oh, my!  A yearbook.
You may remember that rainbow over the tree photo.

The final event was a car parade.
Teachers waved pom-poms and blew bubbles
as families drove by.
Omar from the Groton Police Department
led the parade.  He is wonderful!

Families had their cars all decked out, cheering and honking.

Staff had a final, farewell lunch together
before touring the renovation at the school.

This will be my classroom!

We hope to move back in at the end of the calendar year.

It was quite a busy week.  I may shed a few tears later today.
I will definitely smile as I look through photos.
Next year is right around the corner.
I have the BEST new idea already in the works!
Stay tuned.


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Chapter Reading Summary at School

As a teacher, I write about many things I do with young children.  I will tell you that the most important thing I do is reading aloud.  I know this is #1.  I also chapter read, which is uncommon in preschool.  It is my favorite part of the day.  Children feel the same way.  At the end of the school year I send a newsletter to families about the chapter books we read throughout the year.  And of course I tell them so much more.

Chapter Reading
June 17, 2020

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day.  We bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and think.  They ask questions.  Ask your child, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?”  You will hear your child say, “In your head.”

When we finish a good book and then start a new one, emotions run high and low.  The end of a good book is so satisfying and pleasant, yet…it is over.  That is the wonderful roller coaster of reading.  And, with each chapter book we read, we ride that roller coaster again and again.

When we left school and started distance learning, we were on page 53 of Little House in the Big Woods.  I read aloud the story on YouTube, finishing the book, and then began reading (and finishing) Little House on the Prairie.  It was thrilling; from Jack the dog, to building a house, to Indians in the house.  Pa and his neighbor Mr. Scott dug a well, and we learned about the bad gas deep inside the earth (Pa had to save Mr. Scott) that only a candle can detect.  Of course, I had to show my grandfather’s childhood portrait wearing a miner’s hat with the same candle. Laura and her family had fever ‘n’ ague (malaria), an illness that people thought came from eating watermelons.  There was much more that we typically don’t get to finish during the school year, from Mr. Edwards meets Santa Claus, to Fire on the Prairie.  There is also fear of Indians, which I treat as an opportunity to discuss diversity and prejudice- ‘Gloria’ helps with that.  If your child wants to continue the series, the next one, Farmer Boy is about Laura’s husband when he was a little boy.  I recommend the following one, On the Banks of Plum Creek, which begins their next journey after the prairie.

We vote on our favorite chapter books each year.  Charlotte’s Web is typically the clear winner.

These are the chapter books we have read this year.  Good books are meant to be read over and over again.  We encourage you to revisit these wonderful books with your child:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The fundamental constant that gives children the tools to succeed in school is languageThe more words that children hear, the better they will do in school.  Reading aloud to children is far more than an enjoyable experience.  It increases their language development!  In kindergarten through grade four, the primary source of instruction is oral.  The more words that a child has heard, the better s/he will understand the instruction, and the better s/he will perform in school, in all subjects.  Therefore, we will always campaign to read aloud.

A wonderful guide to book recommendations and to understanding the importance of reading aloud is the million-copy bestseller book, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  I have used the book since my children were little.  The author, Jim Trelease, visited the Aqua Room and GCS.  I am featured in the seventh edition of the book.


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Magic In Stories!

charles french words reading and writing



There is magic in stories. Magic is the transmutation of objects or the manipulation of the world in ways that move outside the realm of science. Whether or not magic is real in the sense of the here and now world is not the point; magic is a metaphor for fiction. Stephen King says, “books are a uniquely portable magic” (104). This magic is in the words, in their transmitting from the writer to the reader other worlds and ideas. In writing fiction, writers create a world that was not there; even so-called realistic, literary writers create an alternate world that readers inhabit when they read the book. The writers and the readers, in a mystical incantation, create another reality, one that can be so strong sometimes that readers can be moved to tears or laughter or sadness or joy or grief or sorrow or despair or hope. Readers…

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