I’ve been in a literacy whirlwind over the past week. It’s based in the wonderful workshop I’m taking for the second summer in a row: Comprehension Strategies with Bebe Morrisey. Bebe loves to read- in turn, her students (children and adult alike) love reading, and get fired up whenever she teaches. Last summer, I stumbled out of her workshop buying books left and right, trying to organize a book club, and with a list of lesson plans and library ideas that I wrapped around myself like a warm and waterproof jacket. The book club fell apart (too many people, too busy a time of year?) and I quickly became a math teacher. This year, I take her ideas out the door and directly to my new classroom, sorting books and highlighting points that I will type into my plans for the very first day. I also sailed through a great adult book during the first two days (we get adult reading time. I love Bebe.)
Tender at the Bone is the second Ruth Reichl book I’ve read in the past month. One of first checkouts from the hallowed Leominster library was Not Becoming My Mother, which is Ms. Reichl’s latest book. I loved both cooking/family memoirs; they made me want to live life fully, leave a record (this blog?) for my future descents to puzzle over, and mostly, made me want to cook. They are fairly quick reads with lots of beautiful descriptions. Your mouth will water. The next food writer I want to check out is Alice Waters.
I also recently finished listening to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on audiobook. Be still, my heart. Hush. This book was cripplingly beautiful, a punch in the gut with one hand and a caress to the heart of your memories with another. Betty Smith uses my favorite style of writing- there might be a more sophisticated name for it, but I call it the list of day-to-day style. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder or Gary Paulsen, Ms. Smith lays out the generational story of a poor Brooklyn family by showing you the way they start their Saturday, earn their pennies, fix their dinner, treat their sisters, mourn their dead, and before you know it, you’ve grown into a young woman and you ARE Francie Nolan, and you know how beautiful the brown bowl is, and you can’t stop being annoyed and awed by the way your mother knows everything.
“He buttoned up his coat jauntily, and Francie saw that he wore their father’s signet ring…It was true then- what granma had said: that the Rommely women had the gift of seeing the ghosts of their beloved dead. Francie saw her father.” –A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The mourning the dead hit my heart and made me cry and because it’s an audiobook that I listen to in the car I was often pulling into parking lots or sitting awhile when I reached my destination. I barely bother with eye makeup with a truly good book is in my car CD player.
I’m exhausted from loving books and crying over them. I’m also reading 7 Keys to Comprehension, Welcome to the Aquarium, The Read-Aloud Handbook, and a book about Resciliency. Yeah, they’re all teacher books. But I’m going to the library again tomorrow.
(All images courtesy of Amazon)