It’s been a long time since I was a child, but I remember well the first time I got lost in a story. My elementary school teachers read books aloud to us, as most good teachers do. This enables children to become familiar with literature that is above their current reading level. Though some of my friends doodled and let their minds wander during this time, I would listen and image myself living the worlds of the characters.
I remember clearly the excitement I felt when my second grade teacher, Mrs. Stephens, read aloud The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I tried to imagine what my brothers and I would do if we were suddenly left to fend for ourselves. Being the eldest, I would have had to be the caretaker. Would I have been as resourceful as Henry and Jesse Alden? Would I be able to keep my little brothers safe, clean, and fed?
I’ve never been much of a worrier, so I didn’t lose sleep over these questions (my mother, a chronic worrier, used to fret over my lackadaisical outlook on life). But I did coerce my siblings and neighbors to “play house” so that I could pretend to be grown up and independent, like the Boxcar Children. We’d make up situations and act them out, happy and secure in the knowledge that at the end of the game, we would relinquish our roles as caretakers and return the big-world responsibilities to our parents. And part of being a secure child meant that in my spare time I was free to read about the further adventures of the self-reliant Henry, Jesse, Violet, and Benny.
Many years later, I rejoiced when my daughters embraced reading. Once they mastered the early readers and needed more challenging literature, I bought a new copy of The Boxcar Children and introduced them to the Alden family. By this time, Scholastic books had added several new books to the series, and we bought most of them. I read the original book to my students, and hopefully they too got caught up in this timeless story. The pictures on the covers have been updated, but the resourcefulness of the children remain, making them great role models for today’s young generation.
Have you ever read a book that made you wish you could be a part of the story?
I read all of the Boxcar Children books that were available in my school library and through my local bookmobile when I was a kid, but no,I could never imagine myself in that position.I was, (am still), also a chronic worrier. Back then, I did not believe I could ever manage a situation like that.
I continued to read aloud to my sons when they were way past the need for me to, but, as you mentioned, they listened to stories that they may never have thought to pick up or would have seemed to ‘grown-up’ or ‘boring’ to them…they found that they weren’t and they would beg me to read. I only wish I had done it more.
My grandchildren are now reading The Boxcar Children series.The stories have been a bit updated and there are many more of them.I have read a few myself.The mysteries are still quite intact,
I wish I would have read aloud to my children more, too! Fortunately both of my daughters caught on to reading quite early and were so independent they preferred to read on their own. But we’d have lively discussions on what they read, and that was fun, too.
That is more what I am doing with my grandson…one reason why I am behind reading my friends’ works…I have to finish the Artemis Fowl series!
Somehow, i never got around to reading any of the Boxcar kids series. And your description makes them sound like something I would have enjoyed.
Wonderful that your teacher read to you.
I also had at least one teacher who read to us in class.
It’s never too late, Jeff! You’ve got grandkids – why not read aloud to them?
good point. Only one grandchild will sit still for stories… the rest are always zooming about.
My children love this story! It is truly a great one.
It’s a classic, isn’t it Angela? I think books that inspire kids to dream and think big are well worth reading and sharing with your kids and grandkids.
I’ve never read TBC, never even heard of them until now. (I know, I’ve lived a sheltered life) The stories I’ve always wanted to be in involved princess’ who are rescued by their prince charming. Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty anyone? 🙂
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