Tag Archives: reading

Reading Obsession Comes From My Mom

21 Apr

Reading Is my passion.  I cannot imagine life without a book by my bedside, magazines by my chair and my IPad with its digital books with me when I travel. If I love to read, then my Mom needs all the compliments.  She was an elementary school teacher, who believed books and reading were the best gift to give to a child.

Mom taught fourth grade for most of her over 30 years teaching career.  She taught as a young woman after college, while my Dad was in Korea.  Then stayed home with three young children.  She started back to full-time teaching when my sister was in first grade.  From then on, Mom’s life was split between us and her students.

Each summer when she went shopping for our school supplies and clothes, she also went shopping for her classroom. It is true that teachers spend their own money for their classrooms.  But this is not a new phenomenon: Mom was buying things for her classroom in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Throughout the year, whenever her students had a Scholastic Book order, Mom would order books for her classroom.  Some were free, some she purchased.  But the good part, for us, was that we got to read these books as well.

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My Mom’s library system.

Mom built up quite a library in her classroom.  Bringing in bookshelves from home to stash her class’ reading choices.  Mom would make them as NF, non-fiction, or F, fiction.  She numbered each book and wrote her name inside.  Whenever the school purged old readers, my Mom would take some for her classroom as extra reading for her students.

She also would bring one of each home for me. Personally, I love old readers.  Whenever  Mom brought some home, I was delighted. Even when I was in college, I would curl with a reader just for fun.

When my Mom retired, I took at least one of each of the readers she still had.  I even have original Dick and Jane books from 1946-47.  Three to be exact.  One is quite decrepit, but I do not have the heart to get rid of it.  Those were actually being thrown out by the school. She asked if she could take a few for me.  And the principal said yes.  I still thank him, Mario, in my mind.

I know exactly which books were in my Mom’s classroom, as I still keep the numbers taped to the front of those books.  Inside I see my Mom’s handwriting and I have a bit of her with me.

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Some of my readers.

But my love for readers created a bit of an obsession for me as my children were growing up.  I often went to garage sales to find books and toys for them to play with.  Among the books, I often found readers.  They were sold for anywhere from a quarter to a dollar.  I then went big time: I started going to library books sales and I would pick up a few readers there.  These were a bit more expensive.  Then came the big book sales in the local convention center.  Yes, they had readers as well. This were even more expensive … three or four dollars!

I now have over 50 early readers and other school books.  My oldest school book is from 1914.  Many are from the 1940s and 1950s.  A few from 1960s.  But I did not stop at readers, not me.  I have science books, math books, language art books. I have readers that were published by the state of Kansas (where I live.)! I even have some very old story books. They are quite fun to read.

In my collection of books, I have an early Disney true life book; an early Nancy Drew; and much more.  My children learned to read with these readers.  Why not!  My daughter was reading the early Dick and Jane books when she was not quite four.  My son a bit later.  Those pictures draw the children in!

I happily passed my love of reading onto my children.  Each summer I would enroll them in the local library’s reading program.  For every five books they read, they got a prize. If they reached a predetermined number of books, they got a really special prize.  I did not have to do that for long for my daughter. She is an avid reader. She learned to read before she even went to kindergarten.  It caused a few problems because her ability to read was a much higher than her maturity.

I have some favorite reading memories.  She loved this scary series, Goosebumps.  One night she was reading a book in bed, way past her bed time.  I guess a thunderstorm was going on in the book, when a thunderstorm started in real life.  She threw the book across the room as she screamed in fright.  We loved that. Her favorite book for the longest time was Pippi Longstocking.  My husband actually hid it.  Many years later, when she was in college, we were cleaning bookshelves, my daughter found the book.  She knew instantly that he had hid it, as it was very high on a shelf.

In fact, in seventh grade, when the English teacher started a reading contest, my daughter blew everyone away.   I don’t remember how many books she read, but her list was extensive.  The teacher even called me into the room to make sure my daughter was really reading that much.   I realized she was not even telling the teacher about all the books she read!

My son was not as avid a reader as my daughter.  He has some dyslexia.  However, he also loved reading from my collection.  He loved the stories about the Spot and Puff.  He moved on slowly to riddle and joke books, then to the Bailey School Kids books. He loved these. His memorable moment was actually meeting the co-author Debbie Dadey and having books signed by her.

He moved on to more ‘boy’ books with time.  Animorphs were a favorite. But then he focused on graphic novels: manga.  The middle school librarian told me of his love, because, of course I volunteered in the school library.  As I re-stacked the books, I also read.  One day she informed me that I had to buy him some manga, as the school library was not carrying that many then.  I am sure there are many more now than in the early 2000s.

I am so glad that my Mom was a teacher.  Her love of books and learning, led to my love of books and learning.  I am glad I was able to pass this joy on to my children.  And whenever I want a little time reminiscing about my Mom, I just pull out a reader, settle into a chair and read.

Two Wonderful Dads!

14 Jun

I was blessed with a wonderful Dad. He had a love of people, all people, with the biggest heart. He once told me that when each child and grandchild is born, you do not split what you have in your heart. No your heart gets bigger. And that was my Dad.

He loved all of us. I was his favorite oldest daughter; my sister was his favorite youngest daughter; my brother was his favorite son. And that continued with his grandchildren. Each one knew that he loved them the most and the best, along with all the other grandchildren that he loved the most and the best.

My Dad was not perfect. But when it came to giving out love, he was the best.

Along the way, he and my Mom loved not only their children and grandchildren, but also their children’s friends and their children. So many of my friends’ children called my Dad and Mom, grandma and grandpa. Some did not have grandparents of their own. Others just felt like my parents were their grandparents too.

And I have friends who saw in my Dad and Mom, substitute parents. And my parents loved them in return. My Dad was more outgoing in his attention. But my Mom always sent them holiday greeting cards and had a special word.

One of my close friends was in New York on business. I told her, “You better let my parents know. “ She did not call them.   So who did she see walking down a street in Manhattan: my Dad. He had a few words for her.

Some of our friends got to see Dad in action in the Catskills. His enjoyment in being at the house in Kauneonga Lake was legendary. And the friends who came up, be they mine or my siblings, were always welcome with love. They all got to eat steak from the grill, or perhaps be part of the Sunday morning French toast breakfast. And if you were lucky you got to ride in the boat.

Dad loved to share his stories, his advice and his hugs and love with everyone.

I think when I looked for a husband, I wanted someone like my Dad; someone who would love and nurture our children.

My husband is a much quieter person than my Dad. But he has been a great Dad. One of his early concerns, before we had children, was that he would not have enough time to be with them. As a physician, he is often busy. But he found the time.

It was my husband who often gave them a bath, singing “Rubber Ducky” in a great imitation of Bert and Ernie. My husband has a great singing voice. He once won a talent contest on a cruise ship singing Rubber Ducky!

It was my husband who read to them every night before bed, when he was home. My reading was never accepted. My husband had voices for every character. I loved listening to him read as well. He read the entire child’s encyclopedia to my daughter. My son wanted dinosaur and lizard books.

He read every Harry Potter book to them. Even when they were in High School, they wanted him to read these books! He would lie in our bed, with our children in the room, reading for an hour or two. When he said, “That’s enough for tonight,” they would beg for more. Sometimes he gave in.

There were a few books he learned to hate. He had read “Pippi Longstocking” so many times to our daughter, that he hid it on a high shelf. He is 6’3” so it was easy for him. Years later, my daughter and I were cleaning bookshelves, and there it was. “Mom, Look! “Pippi Longstocking”! It didn’t get lost,” she said to me when she found it   I just laughed. What could I say?

Because he had such a busy schedule, I often took my children to lunch with him at the hospital where he worked. Wednesdays in the summer time was lunch date with Dad. We would pick up his favorite sandwich and spend some time with him. They loved it.

When they were older, my children had a dinner date with their Dad each week. Tuesdays were my daughter’s date night. They would try out all sorts of different restaurants and report back. She was in seventh or eighth grade when they started going out.   Wednesdays were my son’s night. Our son was younger, so they spent much time at a local pizza place. Those meals were usually a bit shorter.

As a freshman in high school, my daughter came home one day with an important comment. “Mom,” she said seriously. “I feel bad for some of the girls I eat lunch with. They never go out to dinner with their dads.”

They had been talking about parents, and my daughter had told them about her Tuesday night dinner dates with Dad. Several of the girls commented on how they would love it if they could have dinner with their dads.   My daughter thought all dads had dinner with their children.

My husband does not think he was the best dad. He was often busy or out of town. But when he was home, he was engaged and showed them attention. We took our children on trips all over the world. He taught them about the night sky because of his love of astronomy. He loved to teach and share his knowledge.

I am so fortunate to have had two wonderful Dads in my life: my father, who was a great Dad to me, and my husband who has been a great Dad to our children.

They are different in many ways, but the love they have for their children is the same.

I hope all Dads have a wonderful Fathers’ Day.