Thursday, May 8, 2014

Read Aloud Memories

On Saturday May 17th, we will be hosting Indies First Storytime with Jef Czekaj, Matt Tavares, and Joe McKendry. Indies First Storytime is lead by national ambassador for young people’s literature, multi-award winning author, and all around superhero Kate DiCamillo, to celebrate the power of reading to children and the unique role independent bookstores play in getting good books into the hands of readers. Read Kate’s letter here  In honor of Indies First Storytime Day, the booksellers at PSB have shared some of our childhood storytime memories.

Josh: I have no idea why but I loved The Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown. Maybe it was the rhythm of the story or how Scuppers the sailor dog collects all the necessities for his sea-going adventure, or perhaps it was just the fact that this sailor dog was named Scuppers, but for whatever reason, I pretty had the book memorized.

Susannah V: When I was 5 and had just started school, I got measles. I was off school for 6 weeks and once the recovery part started wanted to be read to all the time. Having a mother who taught elementary school was terrific because she knew all the best books. I must have driven her crazy as she was the only one who could do all the "right" voices and sing the songs the way I wanted them sung and I would accept no substitute readers! My favorite books were the Teddy Robinson series by Joan G Robinson. They are still in print and, like Paddington, still hold appeal to today's readers with their wry humor and charm. I remember being offered a substitute book about a Teddy Edward who I rejected immediately as a useless imposter and fraud, and being so bitterly disappointed that we had finished all the series. I obviously went on to read more widely and with less discretion, though I still have my original hardback copy of the first book with my name written carefully inside. I read it to my own son 30 years later and also my two nieces who all enjoyed it just as much. But that's because I could do the right voices, I'm sure.

David: While we read a ton of Dr. Seuss in my house in the early 60s, the book I always loved the best was Yertle the Turtle. I don't think I appreciated its portrayal of the vanity and cruelty of the autocrat Yertle - I was just thrilled that the momentous event at the center of the plot was a burp.

Dina: My mother brought to life the story of five Jewish sisters in the early 1900s by reading aloud All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. The stories became our script for hours of dramatic play as we reenacted life on the Lower East Side of New York. We visited peddlers in the markets, bought penny candy, searched for buttons our mother had hidden to trick us into dusting the parlor, and were quarantined after an outbreak of scarlet fever. Great for ages 7 and up. 

Mackenzie: When I was a kid, my dad used to read me Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton--as an engineer, a book about construction projects really appealed to him. He always insisted on reading all the text, including copyright info, publisher, and dedication page, which drove my mom crazy, but I always felt like these secret, hidden pieces of the book that no one else read out loud were a special part of reading that only me and my dad shared.

Sarah: I can't tell you much about Stuart Little (I mean, I know it's about a mouse. Beyond that? Not much.) but I vividly remember when the book was read to me. I was 8, my brothers were 4 and 2, and every night we'd crawl into my parents' bed for another chapter. Someday I'll get around to reading the book myself, but the important part happened years ago. How's that for a moral? Read to your kids: they'll remember nothing from the award-winning literature you strain your throat to share with them, but who cares? It's the reading, not the words, that matters.

Stephanie: My book of choice is Princess Smartypants, by Babette Cole. As a really shy, introverted kid, I loved the sass of the protagonist, which is reflected in the wry, quirky illustrations and (ultimately) the plot. It was only much later that I realized that it's a totally an anti-fairytale fairytale, and a fantastic feminist message to boot! I give it to everyone I know who has a daughter now.

Jennifer: My mom read to me every night. One of the re-reads I always demanded was the Marianna & Mercer Mayer fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast. I loved the story, but mostly I loved hearing my mom's voice while I got lost in the lush illustrations that were so unlike my everyday world. I still have my childhood copy.

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