I grew up as a baby person in a house full of books. My dad at over 70 years old can still recite the words to Good Night Moon, my sister patiently read to me, the librarians at three libraries knew us by name, and Vroman’s….ahhhhh….Vroman’s! Vroman’s Book Store was and still is my happiest of happy places. In about seventh grade, while most of my friends had crushes on boys, I fell so in love with the book Where the Red Fern Grows that I began reading it aloud to my mom the second I finished it. She sat crocheting while I read, both of us crying in the soft lamp light.
I grew up as a baby teacher in a school full of teachers who didn’t read. Well, they didn’t buy any books, so I assume they didn’t read. “I’m not spending my own money on that,” they would say, horrified that someone might have insinuated they would. “If they want me to have it, then they can pay for it.” Their ideas of current children’s literature included the likes of Corduroy, Dr. Seuss, and Ramona Quimby. I have nothing against any of these (actually…can I admit that I really don’t like Dr. Seuss books very much?), but “current” is definitely not the best word to describe them.
I felt like one of those flowers growing out of a crack in a rock at that school. Desperately trying to dig my roots through impossible ground, stretching to find some sign of sun and the occasional drop of water to nourish me as I grew as a teacher and a reader. But it was hard. So the only outlet for me to share my book love was with my students. And that was perfect for me. I would go to the bookstore, the library, and my own personal stash to find books that we all would love. If I found out someone loved skateboarding, you could be sure I got skatebooks (ok that was a typo, but I liked it, so I am leaving it). When kids got excited about our class garden, I found every plant book I could find. Mercy Watson was what I used to bribe my students to behave. If they didn’t get their work done, sorry, no Mercy today (don’t worry….they ALWAYS got their work done when Mercy was on the line). And then I discovered this cute book about a little girl and her bunny written by this quirky guy who used to write for….Sesame Street! Sesame Street? Turned children’s book author? Ummmm…..perfect job #1 meet perfect job #2.
So for my fellow book nerds, of course I am talking about Knuffle Bunny (that’s Kuh-nuffle for those of you who don’t know). For the middle school teachers and such out there who haven’t read this book, the rest of us will have a moment of silence for you right now.
Needless to say, we all loved this book. We read it and read it and read it until it mostly fell apart and then I bought a new copy and we read it some more. Soon more Knuffle Bunny books and the famous Pigeon books joined their ranks. And then Elephant and Piggie happened.
For those of you who don’t know, the Elephant and Piggie books are a set of easy readers. What makes them different from other easy readers is that they actually have a plot, are funny, and are just amazing to read. Maybe I should be embarrassed to tell you this, but my students, my children, my husband, and I always knew the release date of the next Gerald and Piggie book. Every time one was about to come out, I would dutifully add three copies to my Amazon cart-one for home, one for my class, and one for my husband’s school. All three of my kids and year after year classrooms full of students found a love of reading between the pages of these books.
Fast forward to yesterday when I opened my email from Barnes and Noble, so excited to find that there was another book in the series to be released…..and then my heart stopped…
(Insert that screechy brake noise here) Wait….what? Final book? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? This is the end of an era for me. The end of a piece of something I treasured with lots of lots of little people. Sigh.
I can picture a not too distant May evening when my three copies of a soon-to-be-favorite book arrive, sitting on my couch with my children snuggled around. Maybe this time I will be the one crocheting while my kids read a book to me.
All of us crying in the soft lamplight.