Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Reading Tree

Every kid needs a reading tree... that is my recommendation, anyway.  A good book and one shady tree was perfection and all I needed to get the full effect of sheer contentment on a breezy Summer day. Mine was an American elm... I loved it, and I think it sensed that.  Sitting under that tree with book in hand is one of my best memories from childhood.  I named my tree Steve.

We moved into an apartment across the street from the place mom had been renting for fifty dollars a month.  And, yes, she got what she paid for; that was all she could afford. We lived in that crumbling, cement covered, four room with one bathroom (cement walls, floor, and no tub) house from the time I was about age 6 through age 10.  Mom, my older sister and I crossed the street and moved into the much more up-to-date 4-unit apartments.  My grandmother and cousin had the top unit directly above us. The path from the front gate led visitors to our front door and past it to get to the other apartment.  I had full run of the ample front yard; it was like it was there just for me. Steve the tree was still small enough that if a grown up got up out of a lawn chair they would hit their head.  It was the perfect size for little ol' me.  I loved that tree.

I know I've gone on and on here without yet giving a word about Roald Dahl and his tales from childhood that fill the pages of BOY. I promise, I will get to that soon. When I sat down to read the book this time around, I was immediately taken back to the first time I read it.  One of my family's favorite pastimes has always been visiting bookstores, and my kids were more than happy to select books recommended for their reading levels by teachers to buy and add to their personal book collections.  My boy was in 3rd grade when he first read BOY. I was in my mid thirties.

So, back to the moment I sat with the book this week... I was ready to have some fun, after all, I have been on this adventure countless times before.  Well, I couldn't get past the forward before my head was filling with ideas I wanted to convey in this blog post.  The moment I read the last paragraph of Dahl's introduction about his stories - "Some are funny.  Some are painful.  Some are unpleasant.... All are true. ~ Roald Dahl, BOY - I wanted to start typing away on my laptop.

When I turned the page to begin the section titled Starting-point, I had to stop to share this:  We all have stories.  We have personal histories; some of us are lucky enough to have heard these stories, and have found them interesting enough to commit to memory. We have families and family friends to pass on stories from years - generations - before we were even born. We might have an uncle with a glass eye... what happened that this was necessary.  There might be that family member who scared the dickens out of you when they threatened to use the belt if you didn't eat the sunny-side up egg on your plate... even though you hated runny egg yolks.  How about a story like the one where mother was attacked by dogs as a young girl that still - at age 86 - will make her voice small and fear filled recalling the incident.  These stories are ours. We can choose to share them or keep the close to the heart.  Roald Dahl was genius at telling his stories... we are lucky to have them at our fingertips to enjoy.  And if  we are really lucky, there's a shady tree, lush full of leaves to lounge under and read the day away.

More tomorrow, Lil


  • Roald Dahl,
  • BOY,

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