This weeks Wordfull Wednesday is on how we learned to read or our favorite children's books. I don't really remember much about learning to read. I remember sitting in a circle with other children in elementary school while taking turns sounding out words in our reading books, but little else. I love picture books, children's stories, and juvenile fiction. The only book I read from the time I was old enough to read and continued to read over the years was my Bible. My Dad bought me a bible from a used book store when I was very young. It had all the words of Jesus highlighted in red type, and had a family history section between the Old and New Testaments which I dutifully recorded the births and deaths of all my hamsters, rabbits and other pets on. I used to keep it under my pillow and every night before I went to sleep I would pull it out and read a verse or two. I don't know what happened to that Bible, but I kind of wish I still had it now. When I got a little older my parents bought me a new paperback set of scriptures, and then an even nicer set when I was fourteen that I still treasure today. While the scriptures aren't technically "children's books" the words of God are for everyone, young, old or in the middle.
I have SO many children's books that I love. Some I love to read to my children, some I love just for their pictures, and some I love for the lessons they teach. I enjoyed the Berenstain Bear book series as a child and my children do as well. One of my personal favorites was Baby Dear by Eloise Wilkins. I love the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park. We all love funny stories at my house. Our most recent discovery are the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, they are hilarious!
When I was in college I stopped at a sidewalk library book sale on campus and found a children's book that is probably my most special favorite. It's called A Grandmother's Story and was written and illustrated by Glenn Halak. Most pages only have a single line of text, but it carries many messages in the short tale. The opening line is, "There was an old woman who rowed out to sea." The next page says, "Her neighbors all thought she was mad as could be." The book tells the story of a Grandmother who despite what her neighbors thought followed her heart and rowed out to sea until she, "arrived where she knew she must be." When she gets to the rock in the sea where she's going, she waits. She waits in the cold through a great storm that comes and then after the storm her fisherman grandson is drifting on a log in the nearby sea, and she is able to rescue him because she listened. The closing line of the book says, "What a wonder the heart is, how wise it can be, and as strong and as deep as our mother the sea." For me this sweet story is as a parable of life. Sometimes in life we have to do things that other people think are crazy. Sometimes because of challenges and trials in our lives we feel as alone as if we were on a cold granite stone. We have to work hard to do what we feel is right and what our hearts tell us is right. Sometimes even after we do what we feel is right, the storms of life come and beat upon us. But if we are faithful and diligent, miracles will happen in our lives and we will be able to be instruments in the hands of God to help and to heal.