Stories connect us. To each other, to the world, to ideas we might not have otherwise been exposed to.
I can still remember sitting in my great-aunt Frances’s lap while she read to me from books like The Poky Little Puppy and The Cow Went Over the Mountain. It was magic, that feeling of entering another world, of watching the characters come to life in my mind.
Even before I could maneuver a fat first-grade pencil, my great-aunt Augusta and I made our own stories by cutting out characters from catalogs and acting out adventures with them. My grandmother and I filled her car with imaginary animals. I can still remember how I had to hold tightly to the sea turtle whenever we crossed the Kanawha River bridge. Those wonderful ladies filled my life with puppets and flannel board characters, sea monkeys, and growing crystals. And books, books, always books. They understood the truth of Aristotle’s words: “Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a fire.”
Time passed, and I discovered Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series and Louisa Mae Alcott’s Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. I traveled the universe through A Wrinkle in Time and learned about the holocaust through Anne Frank’s heartrending diary and a book called The Silver Sword. I read The Call of the Wild , My Friend Flicka, and a Louis L’Amour book called Reilly’s Luck until they fell apart in my hands; embraced Fantasy through A Wizard of Earthsea; learned about social stratification through The Outsiders; and learned about the divide between the in-group and the misfits through Bless the Beasts and the Children. I fell in love with Tolkien.
I got a B.S. and later a Masters in Special Education, taught for 11 years in a comprehensive development classroom and one in a junior high/high school resource class. I eventually left the classroom, worked in educational assessment and finally became a writer. Through it all, I’ve loved sharing the joy of learning. One of my most rewarding days was when a student came to me after we had read The Outsiders and he had watched the movie. “That was a pretty good movie, Ms. Beth,” he said. “But the book was better.”
The old favorites are timeless, still relevant today, but there is a host of new and wonderful titles that can give children (of all ages) that same wondrous feeling of entering another world, of sharing another life. Not to mention a treasure trove of toys, games, and exploration materials that help children learn and grow through discovery and play.
Children’s Books and Learning was created to help you, as parents and teachers, kindle of the fires of learning in the children you love through books and other educational materials that stimulate creativity and a thirst for knowledge.
If you have questions or comments for Children’s Books and Learning, you can send them to me at Beth@childrensbooksandlearning.com. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a favorite quote from Shel Silverstein:
“If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean buyer,
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.