Tips for Raising Readers

How Three Generations of Family Books Became My Favorites

tableclothGreat-grandma’s house had orange carpet. I remember going there to visit–it seemed like she always had Pringles and M&Ms. She always had good books around too. When she passed away, all of us grandchildren were allowed to pick a few of her possessions around the house. I chose a pink, porcelain, decorative jewelry bowl that had a lid covered in porcelain flowers, costume jewelry, a big jewelry box, and a children’s book called The Magic Tablecloth, the Magic Goat, and the Hitting Stick. My siblings and I all enjoyed the book when we were younger, and my youngest sister still counts it as one of her favorites today. When I asked her why she loves it, she said it’s “funny and like a fairy tale–but different! I liked the part where the hitting stick hits the innkeeper for taking all the boy’s stuff.”

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Obviously, hitting isn’t a great moral for a children’s book. But looking back, the reason I too loved that book was for its sense of magic. It’s about a little boy who, upon gaining a magical tablecloth that is always spread with food, runs to tell his mom what he got. However, while he’s gone, the evil innkeeper steals the magic tablecloth. This situation is repeated multiple times with different magical objects, until the young boy is given a magic stick that hits the innkeeper when he tries to steal it. I always loved the dramatic irony–that I knew who was stealing the magic items when the little boy in the story didn’t. While it may not be a famous classic, it has been special to my family because along with it, the love of reading and books was passed down to us.

BridgetAnother of my favorite books growing up was called Bridget by Gen LeRoy. I remember my mom showing my older sister and me this favorite book of hers. At first, I judged it by it’s cover–worn edges, all one plain color, with only the title and a silly drawing of a girl on the cover. It didn’t look that interesting, but my mom told us she read it fourteen times when she was younger! My mom showed me her love of reading, and then I was so excited to read one of her favorites. As I mentioned, It became one of my own favorites, and I read it multiple times, just like my mom had. I loved the main character, Bridget. She was fun and quirky, and she unsuccessfully tries to get a boy to like her. Luckily, Grandma passed down this book to my mom for us to enjoy, as well as The Secret Garden, another family favorite.

Not only did my great-grandmother and my mother teach me to love reading–but my grandma did as well. My grandparents moved four doors down from us when I was younger, which also meant we had a new library only a few houses away! Grandma J would always let me borrow any book, anytime. She has favorites she’ll recommend, one of which is the Mary Higgins Clark suspense series. I read many of them over the years (usually in one or two nights because I couldn’t go to sleep without knowing the end of the suspenseful novel!), and they were even more fun to read knowing my Grandma loved them, too.

I loved being raised in a family where books are a treasure to be shared through the generations. It will be fun to see what books my mom passes down along with Bridget, and who will be next to enjoy The Magic Tablecloth, the Magic Goat, and the Hitting Stick. Someday, when I have kids, they’ll be fortunate enough to read books with great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents. With that kind of help, there’s no doubt that a love of books and reading will be passed to the next generation.

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So how about you. What books were passed down to you, and which will you give to your children?

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