Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time To Read (Early October)

Several weeks ago I mentioned that I planned to purposefully post periodic updates about the books that the sweet girl and I are reading together. I'm doing this partly for my own record-keeping/reflections, but I also hope others might benefit from some of the book recommendations.

Our longer read-alouds thus far (since late August):
Little House in the Big Woods (Wilder)
The Boxcar Children (Warner)
The Apple and the Arrow (Buff)
Babe: The Gallant Pig (King-Smith)
The Storm: The Lighthouse Family (Rylant)
My Father's Dragon (Gannett)

Well, we're almost done with that chapter tomorrow!

As for picture books, we've had a sudden renaissance of interest in the work of Marisabina Russo, long a favorite of the sweet girl's. We started reading Russo's books when S. was about two, and they've definitely stood the test of time. Lately she's been wanting repeated reads of Waiting for Hannah; The Trouble With Baby; The Line-Up Book; and Russo's newest, The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds. I cheerfully confess that the last one drives me a bit crazy, but it's a fun read-aloud and at least it raises good discussion about listening and obedience (though the mischievous bunnies, a la Curious George, don't always provide the most wholesome examples).

I'm feeling very grateful to Marisabina Russo, however, not only because she writes books that help my daughter tap into and learn to better express her feelings, but because of a most gracious letter she wrote to us last week. I was on her website not long ago, looking up the names of some of her newer work (at the request of the sweet girl) so we could put them on hold in our library system. When I saw she listed an email adress, I decided on a whim to contact her and let her know how much we loved her books at our house. I've been getting more bold about contacting authors in recent years, in part because I'm coming to realize how wonderful it is when people tell you that what you wrote touched them on a deep level, and in part because published authors are becoming so much more accessible in the information age. I even sent Marisabina a link to a review I wrote of her book Come Back, Hannah. Re-reading the review, which I penned a couple of years ago, brought back very fond memories of our little girl's toddlerhood and our struggles and small, daily triumphs with language acquisition.

Well, not only did Marisabina Russo enjoy my review (and say so, which was quite lovely of her) but she wrote some wonderful words just for my daughter, letting her know how happy she was that her books were so loved. It's a letter we'll treasure. And it makes me think that perhaps we should write a few more authors and let them know how much we enjoy their work! Among other things, it helps S. to know and understand that authors are real people, writing out of their real lives and experiences, and that they care about readers. At least the best ones!


Erin said...

Oh, how cool that she responded, and in such a personal and gracious way! I don't think I'm familiar with her writing; another one to add to the list! :)

Beth said...

Yes, it was a really lovely letter. I really admire authors who know how to respond graciously to admirers, and who clearly feel grateful to make real connections with readers.

Russo's books are interesting. They feel very "real" -- especially when it comes to describing sibling relationships (which make them interesting books to read to S., who has none). Her child characters always express their feelings very strongly, and that's another "learning curve" with us...sometimes S. gets upset at incidents in the books (squabbling sibs or other things) but I don't mind because we use those feelings she shares as jumping off places for good conversations.

Anyway, I think you'd like her work!