Thursday, March 3, 2016

Flashback to Memories of Being the "Book Auntie"

This is a frankly (blatantly?) warm-and-fuzzy family-children-and-books story, one with a (perhaps unseemly) touch of self-congratulation. But I can’t resist. The background: Several of my (six) nieces and my (one) nephew, now all adults or near-adults, have been kind enough to say that I helped to influence them to love reading, which as you can imagine, warms my heart incredibly. When they were small, I enjoyed giving them books, reading to them, taking them to bookstores and libraries, whenever possible. Some of them lived across the country, but I saw them at least once a year in the leisurely setting of my parents’ lakeside summer cottage, where we converged, and where the “Michigan cousins” and my daughter happily played together, basking in the surroundings and in the attention of their wonderful grandparents. One frequent outing was to the charming little local library on its own miniature island, approached by a footbridge. Another was to a nearby bookstore, where I told each child she or he could pick out one book each time as a gift from me. There were piles of books, children’s and adults', at the cottage, and lots of reading to the kids, as well as their reading on their own. Of course they read and were read to at home too, encouraged by their parents, but I enjoyed my special role as the “book auntie.” OK, so bringing the story up to the present: A couple of days ago, one of my nieces, A., who now has three young children of her own, sent me a short video of the oldest one (7 years old) reading to the youngest (2 years old). He was reading her the wonderful, wonderful book “Jamberry,” which I loved reading to my daughter and to my nieces and nephew when they were little, and which I gave A.’s oldest son when he was about one year old. It was so cute, and so heartwarming, to hear this young reader reading the beloved exuberant and poetic book’s words to his little sister, and at the same time to go on a nostalgic flashback to my reading that book to my daughter and her cousins at home and at the cottage. So, I thank my niece A. for providing me with this lovely scene and lovely memory! And I can’t end this entry without putting in an enthusiastic word for this delightful, irresistible book for very young readers (one that is also fun for their parents and other grown-up readers), “Jamberry,” written and illustrated by Bruce Degen. Here are a couple of excerpts:“One berry, Two berry, Pick me a blackberry….Raspberry, Jazzberry, Razzmattazzberry, Berryband, Merryband, Jamming in Berryland…” The words practically sing themselves off the page! The illustrations are equally creative, energetic, and joyful.
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