Opening the Padlock, Loosening the Chain: Reflections on the Worlds That Reading Opens

Meet Becky White-Schooner, an avid reader and creative co-proprietor of Schooner Farms in Weston, Ohio:

I am such a fortunate woman to be able to do what I love and love what I do. Our little farm is a source of inspiration and joy. Every day I get to create in one way or another, and that feeds my soul. There is beauty everywhere, and I enjoy finding grace all around me. Currently, I am working on a few new murals at the farm and planning our very first Open House/Lavender Event. I am nervous but incredibly excited. The farm has brought such joy to our lives, and we are grateful for the friends we have made and the sense of community we have built over the years. 
Becky White

 

What book is your homerun book? Why does this book mean so much to you?

How does one choose? I would say there are two books that really stand out to me growing up. The first is Reader’s Digest Fairy Tales. An old thick book with a ragged red cover was my passage to many magical places, exciting cultures and encouraged my imagination to blossom. I was nine or ten when I recall reading the fairy tale collection, but it was when I was eleven that the book took on a whole new meaning for me. My family had moved to Vermont from Ohio, and we didn’t know anyone, and reading helped create imaginary friends and places for my younger siblings and me. I am eight years older than my brother, Raymond, and ten years older than my sister, Jenny, so I was sort of a mom to them. My Grandfather White was an amazing storyteller and I would relish his tales of “Grandfather Bullfrog” and other woodland creatures. I remember wanting my siblings to have that experience, so I tried to fill that gap with the fairy tales in that old Reader’s Digest book.

My second most cherished reading experience was the very first time I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The summer I was twelve, I found an old book at a tag sale. The title was Rebecca. Being a Rebecca myself, I had to buy it, of course. I remember the first line of Rebecca like I am reading it right now –

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.’

I read that passage over and over, and for me at twelve, I thought those were the most amazing words ever written. The writing was dreamy and just gorgeous. I think I was old enough to appreciate how words could flow and make such an impression. It was my first foray into Gothic Novels but oh, did it open doors to even more amazing books. Jane Eyre was next, then Sense and Sensibility, poems by Emily Dickinson and more Austen. I loved those books. I connected with the characters and created a narrative in my mind of who I wanted to become.

Tell us how you came to be a lifelong reader. Was there a person who influenced you as a child? Did you have a teacher or a librarian who encouraged you?

My love of reading was really influenced by my Grandpa White. As I mentioned above, he was an amazing storyteller. He had a velvet radio voice and could create such wonderful stories. I truly loved that about him. Grandpa was a reader. I was always in awe of all the leather bound books he had on his shelves. I learned at an early age that reading was an escape, and, to be honest, it probably saved me. My 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Maguire, was one of the most influential women in my life. She believed in me and encouraged me to reach my potential. I will never forget her. She shared so many fabulous books with me and told me to allow my imagination to soar. She taught me that I could find solace in reading.

Where is your favorite place to read, and when do you make the time for reading? As a child, when and where did you read?

As a girl, I loved to lay on the porch swing and read all day long. I was a night reader too. My sister loved Clifford and after reading that to her, I would dive into my own literary world.

As an adult, my favorite time and place to enjoy reading is on the front porch glider, first thing in the morning with the gorgeous birdsong and fresh breeze. Otherwise, you’ll find me in a big old leather chair with a cuppa. I like to read in the  morning before any one can intrude on my time.

If you could pick five books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, what would those books be? And, why?

My choices would be for older children.

The Reader’s Digest of Fairytales – so many great stories and a wonderful way to learn about the world.

Any thing by Ronald Dahl – I loved all of his books. I love his characters and the bits of wonder and magic.

The Harry Potter Series – I read these to my stepson and we formed a beautiful bond over these books. Talk about creating an imaginary world. Wow!

The Little House Books – by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This series really taught me about hardships, daily survival, family, nature, history, morals and growing up. One can learn to appreciate how much different life was just a few generations ago. I was gifted this series by my grandparents when I was in the third grade. I recall learning so many good lessons and I appreciated my life and the time period I lived in.

Greek Myths –My goodness, I loved reading Greek myths. Again, inspiring the imagination.

Please tell us about it your favorite read-aloud book.

Clifford the Big Red Dog will always be my favorite read aloud book. I cherish those memories of being curled up in bed reading to my little sister. We didn’t have a lot of children’s books, my parents weren’t readers so Clifford was on repeat every night. I taught my sister to read with Clifford. The story was the same every night but we would make up new adventures for Clifford and Emily Elizabeth on our own. It was those moments that I saw that little spark of imagination in my sister and myself.

Do you have a favorite library?

The Wood County District Public Library is my local favorite. The staff is amazing, the space inviting and so much good energy. I guess, my favorite library is my own – it is full of topics I love and can learn from whenever I want. Books that have inspired me, frustrated me, taught me and by the tomes on the shelves I see the evolution of my own personal story.

What else would you like to add on the topic of books and reading?

Reading is a gift we should never take for granted. Carve out time to feed your imagination and soul.

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Reading: A Celebration Across Generations

Phyllis1

“Reading was very important,” says Phyllis Mercer of her school days. “Every child that had a book handled it with respect.”

Phyllis’s mother was a teacher; her three sisters were teachers. One year, one sister was Phyllis’s teacher.

“You may ask how that worked out,” Phyllis says. “It didn’t work out real well.”

But all those teachers meant many people to read to Phyllis. There were always books at home, and there was a Carnegie library in Phyllis’s home town where she could borrow more. Phyllis especially remembers her mother reading her the Old Mother West Wind books.

“What great books!” she says, adding sadly, “I think they are out of print now.”

Phyllis grew up and married and moved to Ohio; every year, her mother sent her children books at Christmas. And Phyllis continued to read and share her love of reading with her children (she had five), then her grandchildren (there are 12), and now with her great grands: there are 22 of them.

Phyllis’s faith and her family are very important to her; her home run book, Smiling Hill Farm, makes her think of the family who came before. “My grandmother and grandfather started out in a cabin,” she remembers, “and moved to a larger house, and all of the relatives moved right around. I can remember the big dinners for the threshers, and all the things they talked about.”

Image result for Smiling Hill Farm image

What book is your homerun book? Why does this book mean so much to you?

 I read Smiling Hill Farm in school. When I read the book, I thought there was nothing finer than a brick house. I have never lived in a brick house, but, sometimes, going down the road, I will think, ‘That house looks just like the Smiling Hill farmhouse would look.’

I told my daughter how much I loved the Smiling Hill Farm book, and she gave me a copy one Christmas. I just re-read it; I love the story.

Tell us how you came to be a lifelong reader. Was there a person who influenced you as a child?

My mother was my influence; she was such a reader. She would put a book in the window and read while she did dishes.

What is your favorite place to read? As a child, when and where did you read?

I read in bed. As a child, I read in bed, too, and I did a lot of reading in a closet. My children kid me about that. It was like a little club house, and no one would bother me there.

If you could pick five books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, what would those books be?

  1. Bible stories.
  2. An animal book.
  3. A book the child can read.
  4. A vintage book. (I love Mark Twain.)
  5. A photo album of their family.

Do you enjoy reading aloud?

I’d read aloud from any book I might be reading. I read to my children every night until they fell asleep on me!

Do you have a favorite library? If so, please describe a little and tell us why.

North Baltimore has one of the best children’s libraries in the state. The workers are great, and it is fresh and clean.

What else would you like to add on the topic of books and reading?

 I wish all people could have a book they can hold and feel.  There is something about the smell of a book, and the touch of the paper, that gives you a sense of security.

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To find out more about First Step’s initiative to help every kid find her or his own home-run book, or for information on any of First Step’s programs, please contact us:

Address: P.O. Box 1103 Fostoria, OH 44830

Office Phone: 419.435.7300

Email: info@firststepweb.org

Website: http://firststepweb.org

The image of the Smiling Hill Farm book is from goodreads.com. Phyllis Mercer’s photo supplied by Terri Mercer.

Life By the Book

Jeff

Jeff Winkle grew up a few miles east of Van Buren, about half a mile from the house he lives in now. After graduating from Van Buren High School, Jeff earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Kent State University.

For twenty years Jeff and his family ran Winkle’s Open Book, a little general bookstore. “We opened in 1978 and closed our doors in 1998,” says Jeff. “We carried a lot of children’s books, and I’m always pleased when someone tells me that they or their children enjoyed the store.”

Jeff worked at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library library from 1999 to 2005 and then left to direct the Kaubisch Memorial Public Library in Fostoria and the Tiffin–Seneca Public Library. He returned to Findlay as director in 2009.

Jeff has had what one might literally call a storied career, but to him, there’s something even greater. “My wife Leslye, daughters Nicole Winkle and Katy Word, son-in-law John Word, and grandson Joel Word are the most important parts of my life,” he says.

Read on! Jeff shares his thoughts on books and reading.

Golden Nature Guides

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 FS: What book is your homerun book? Why does this book mean so much to you?

JW: I’m not sure that I have that one special book. While we always had books in the house, I don’t remember any particular book. My earliest memories of books are the Golden Nature Guides that were in my Christmas stockings each year. No matter what bigger presents I received, it was always the little books about Mammals or Reptiles or Dinosaurs or Sharks that excited me. Although I almost exclusively read fiction now, at that time of my life I wanted to learn about everything.

Upon reflection, there are two other books that stick in my memory: Fighting Five, a basketball story about an underdog team by William Heuman, and TwoMinutes Mysteries by Donald Sobol.

FS: Tell us how you came to be a lifelong reader. Was there a person who influenced you as a child? Did you have a teacher or a librarian who encouraged you?

JW: There was no particular person who influenced my reading habit. From then until now, reading remains my peaceful time, the time when I am most relaxed.

FS: Where is your favorite place to read, and when do you make the time for reading? As a child, when and where did you read?

 JW: My favorite place to read is on the family room floor with my feet next to the woodstove. A good book and warm feet is heaven.

As a child I loved to read in a cedar lined screened porch that was in my great-grandfather’s little cabin on a lake in Indiana. The smell of the wood and the breeze off the lake were perfect. I had not thought of that spot for years until this question. It still makes me smile.

FS:If you could pick five books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, what would those books be? And, why?

 JW:

Goodnight Moon—because it is calming and beautiful.

Very Hungry Caterpillar—because children can learn so much reading it.

Little Engine that Could—because children can.

Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew—because everyone needs a little mystery.

The Night Before Christmas—because it sums up everything magical about Christmas.

FS: What’s your favorite read-aloud book?

JW: Good Night Moon. I read it countless times to both of my daughters and now my grandson. It is always special.

FS: Do you have a favorite library? Bookstore? If so, please describe a little and tell us why.

JW: I am partial to the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library and an old bookstore, Winkle’s Open Book.

FS: What else would you like to add on the topic of books and reading?

JUST READ! Read for your own peace, knowledge and enjoyment. It is good for your brain and your soul. And, I strongly encourage everyone to read to your children, grandchildren or any little one you can. Reading broadens a child’s vocabulary and their base of knowledge. Reading stimulates a child’s imagination and opens the whole world to their inquiring minds.

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To find out more about First Step’s initiative to help every kid find her or his own home-run book, or for information on any of First Step’s programs, please contact us:

Address: P.O. Box 1103 Fostoria, OH 44830

Office Phone: 419.435.7300

Email: info@firststepweb.org

Website: http://firststepweb.org

Photo found on Pinterest.com

The Giving Book

Amanda Miles was born and raised in Findlay, Ohio, where she graduated from high school in 2000. She attended Owens Community College before transferring to Kent State for two years. In 2004, she married Andrew.

Amanda and Andrew moved to Fargo, North Dakota, in 2006, where Amanda’s parents and sister, and Amanda’s dad’s business, had relocated. And then, shortly after arriving in Fargo, Amanda discovered she was expecting Parker, who was born in January of 2007. Andrew, Amanda, and Parker moved back to Findlay that April.

“We wanted,” says Amanda, “to plant our feet on home soil, and to join Andrew’s parents and my brother who were still here.” In 2009 Amanda and Andrew welcomed their second son, Jackson.

“Andrew and I continue our lives here in Findlay, Ohio,” says Amanda, “with great jobs that allow us both to work first shift and get some much-needed family time.”

Amanda is also very involved in her community.

“I was able to work very closely with Heidi Mercer on her City Council-at-Large run, and continually try, though my schedule can be hectic, to make city meetings and support the Spectrum family and friends support group.”

But there’s always time, even in a busy family’s schedule, for reading. “When I can,” says Amanda, “I continue stocking my bookshelves every year with trips to Yellow Springs. And the kids never miss a book fair.”

Reading is a generational celebration in the Miles family. “I am always thankful to Mary and Stephen Miles,” Amanda says, “who have been some of the best grandparents and a solid foundation for our children’s growth in reading and maturity.”

In the pictures below, Jackson is the Neil deGrasse fan, and Parker reads to the guests at a school conference. Amanda is curled up, reading Alan Alda. Read on: Amanda shares her home-run book and talks about what books have given her…

 

Amanda

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FS: What book is your homerun book? Why does this book mean so much to you?

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. This book really got to me at a young age. The story is short and sweet, but it is also very impacting on the lengths people will/should go for someone they care about.

FS: Tell us how you came to be a lifelong reader. Was there a person who influenced you as a child? Did you have a teacher or a librarian who encouraged you?

I think I learned how to read by reading Bible verses as a young child. My parents were very adamant about the verses in the Bible, and I remember reading them often as a way to help me learn new words. I think that is how my reading was sparked.  I was fortunate enough to have had continued influences from my English/Literature teachers. I cannot stress enough how important it is for teachers in that department to really allow children/kids to read things that are too big for them and allow them to write their stories about those books. I was really blessed in all my years to have supportive teachers in that area, and I wouldn’t know which one to point out as the most influential, so to any of them who may be reading this—Thank you.

FS: Where is your favorite place to read, and when do you make the time for reading? As a child, when and where did you read?

When I was a kid I really enjoyed reading outside, and that has continued as an adult. If I could/can find somewhere cozy or comfy in the perfect sun/shade ratio, there I was, and there I still am, with a book in my hand. Something about the fresh air has always helped me clear my head to make room for stories. Ohio isn’t always weather supportive, so if I have to be inside, all I need is a blanket and a quiet space.

FS: If you could pick five books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, what would those books be? And, why?

1-The Giving Tree-It teaches children exactly the lengths their parents will go for them—how loves looks from another point of view.

2-Where the Wild Things Are– Kids need to be okay with having a big personality, and they need to feel like kings of their own wilderness inside.

3-James and The Giant Peach-A fun and imaginative book that helps kids get into a bigger read without a heavy commitment. James and The Giant Peach is full of imagination and description for the mind to wonder about.

4-Little Critter stories-Those ones always stuck out to me, and I think they really are good at showing the relatable lives that kids live.

5-Goosebump Books-Or something like them! I know I was excited to add Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to the bookshelf as my children were growing, but not all parents have the same idea. I think Goosebumps books really have a mix of humor and horror and can really let a kid into a world that isn’t so little any more.

FS: What’s your favorite read-aloud book? Please tell us about it! (If you have a favorite person to whom you read aloud, or one who read to you, please feel free to share that, as well.)

I have two boys who are no longer so young any more, but I really loved reading Dr. Seuss to them. Dr. Seuss makes all things fun and exciting to read out loud. Green Eggs and Ham was my youngest favorite to read to them because I would do very angry refusals of all the food Sam listed off. Dr. Seuss has a way of making day time or night time reading fun, and some of his stories, like The Butter Battle Book, also created conversations with my children that were insightful for both myself and them.

FS: Do you have a favorite bookstore? If so, please describe a little and tell us why.

There is this bookstore in Yellow Springs Ohio that I HAVE to go to every time we visit: Dark Star Books & Comics. Here are my reasons why:

1-Their selection is absolutely incredible.

2-It is the kind of place where you can spend two-three hours if you want, just looking through all the books on the shelves, stepping on chairs to see what the top shelf might hold for you. The store workers are amazing and kind; they are around if you want help, but they let you just explore without being all weird about it. The books are extremely reasonably priced; a lot of books are used, which is fantastic! And yes, I know comics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are some amazing old comics in there as well. Truly a gem.

FS: What else would you like to add on the topic of books and reading?

Neil Gaiman said it best when he said, “We all — adults and children, writers and readers — have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.”

Never be too good, too old, and too busy to pick up a book and show yourself, and most of all your children, that reading is always an adventure.

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To find out more about First Step’s initiative to help every kid find her or his own home-run book, or for information on any of First Step’s programs, please contact us:

Address: P.O. Box 1103 Fostoria, OH 44830

Office Phone: 419.435.7300

Email: info@firststepweb.org

Website: http://firststepweb.org

Photos for this post provided by Amanda Miles.

Holding the Brush

It occurs to me reading allows us to participate; while we are guided by the writer (hopefully), we get to fill in the details, hold the brush, celebrate our own story, which seems to have a direct correlation to social work in general. It’s hard to write an epic novel if we are stuck in the Preface.

—Tom Tobin

Tom

Lara, 8, and Molly, 18, with their dad, Tom Tobin

 

“I really believe in First Step’s positive, holistic, approach to social problems like domestic violence. Too often solutions are hard to see in the chaos of the task at hand,” says First Step’s Community Resource Coordinator, Tom Tobin. Tom earned his social work degree  from Bluffton University before joining the First Step staff.

“It’s hard to imagine,” says Tom, “some of things we take for granted. I grew up in the same home, with both parents, and never had to worry about basic needs being met. That is seldom the case for the clients we see. While I do not consider myself an avid reader, I understand the importance of creating positive reference points in the uncertainty and confusion of social problems like domestic violence.

“I can remember my first grade teacher reading The Boxcar Children to us in class. Those adventures came to life every Friday afternoon, and always left us wanting more. That excitement and enthusiasm [for reading] has been reignited many times over the years,” says Tom, “and most recently by this Read Aloud campaign.”

At First Step, Tom co-facilitates Passages and leads the 24/7 Dad program. He is the father of three. He enjoys music,  sharing that love at community events that include Lunch on the Lawn, Chamber of Commerce activities, and local Farmers Markets. He loves art and nature.

Tom has been the sole proprietor of Main Street Emporium antiques store for over 25 years. He credits his mother with pointing out things lost or forgotten to him. “The trash man often left more than he took at our house when I was growing up,” he says.

Tom is a member of the Fostoria Community Arts Council, has served for over four years as a scout leader for Boy Scouts of America Black Swamp Area Council Troop 450, and has partnered with Fostoria Parks and Recreation Programs to provide summer recreation programs for children.

 

Leopold

FS: What book is your homerun book? Why does this book mean so much to you?

Tom: A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. Leopold’s real time descriptions of nature paint pictures that give context to a harmonious sense of balance. It’s hard for me to sit around a campfire and not consider the passage of time. The fuel measured in a calendar of growth rings, giving back the warmth of a thousand sunsets, ashes delivered to the soil in a never ending cycle of life. This book means a lot to me because it has kept me grounded in the moment’s nature has to offer, an invitation to pause and celebrate life as it rushes by.

FS: Tell us how you came to be a lifelong reader. Was there a person who influenced you as a child? Did you have a teacher or a librarian who encouraged you?

Tom: My first grade teacher and The Boxcar Children certainly had an impact. But for me that impact was not truly felt until later in life. College required a fair amount of reading. And many teachers influenced me along the way. I can remember a professor of humanities at Bluffton University assigning Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer, and Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. It was interesting to draw comparisons from literature written by those who lived in different centuries. This same professor made us draw conclusions about the history of humanity by reading the literature that influenced that history. This teacher, among others, profoundly influenced me in pointing out the importance of the written word.

 FS: As a child, when and where did you read?

Tom: I’d be on the bottom bunk of a bunk-bed I shared with my brother on a Sunday afternoon if there was nothing else going on. I would cover the sides of the bottom bunk with the blankets from the top bunk. With flashlight in hand, I’d disappear into a world all my own.

FS: If you could pick five books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, what would those books be? And, why?

Tom:

  • The Giving Tree
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Goodnight Moon
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear
  • Mooses Come Walking

I have read each of these books with my children dozens of times. I feel they all have an endearing quality that lives long past the story teller. I still quote these books to my older children.

Would you? Could you? With a

We smile!

FS: What’s your favorite read-aloud book? Please tell us about it!

Tom: Any book by Dr. Seuss; the rhyming cadence flies off the page and forces participation. Another is Mary Mack, Mack, Mack All Dressed in Black…

FS: Do you have a favorite library? Bookseller? If so, please describe a little and tell us why.

Tom: Fostoria’s Kaubisch Memorial Public Library is great. This library is about a block from my house and offers a comfortable, relaxing environment to read the daily newspaper, or research a project. I use Amazon to purchase books. It’s quick and easy, and I enjoy the anticipation of receiving something in the mail other than bills.

FS: What else would you like to add on the topic of books and reading?

Tom: I would just like to say this exercise has helped reignite a spark for me. I ordered a couple of books on Amazon last week. One I have not read, and the other I read so long ago it is a distant memory.

This is one more way we at First Step can empower children by offering the benefits and lasting impact that reading can bring. Recently my 8-year-old daughter Lara came home from school and told me about watching the movie Wonder. Her 3rd grade class had been reading the book, so I was curious as to what her take was on the movie. She said, “The movie left out a lot of detail.” She explained, “Something as simple as walking up on the porch. In the movie they just walked up on the porch. In the book there was a butterfly flying around one of the bushes that surrounded the porch.”

The part of this conversation I found interesting is that Lara’s attention to detail was greatly enhanced by reading, rather than watching, this story. And while the world needs an audience, I would like my daughter to also be an active participant.

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To find out more about First Step’s initiative to help every kid find her or his own home-run book, or for information on any of First Step’s programs, please contact us:

Address: P.O. Box 1103 Fostoria, OH 44830

Office Phone: 419.435.7300

Email: info@firststepweb.org

Website: http://firststepweb.org

Photos for this post provided by Tom Tobin.

Reading Makes Us Jump for Joy

Meet sisters Hailey Theis, 21, and Elyssa Theis, 19. They not only love to read, but they plan to share that love with children when they earn their professional degrees. Hailey and Elyssa both study Inclusive Early Childhood Education at Bowling Green State University. Their earliest teachers, they say, encouraged their passion for books.

Jumping for joy

That’s Hailey on the left; Elyssa is on the right. The avid readers are excited at the prospect of teaching children to share their love of literature.

“Growing up,” says Hailey, “I liked to read in the summer because if you read so many books, you then would get a prize at school. I also enjoyed getting read to at school.”

Elyssa, too, credits outstanding instructors with sparking her love of reading. “I became an avid reader,” she says, “through my teachers, who made us spend at least 15 minutes reading every day. Even though it wasn’t much time, it still allowed me to fall in love with reading.” Those elementary teachers gave her a great gift, Elyssa reflects; the reading she did as a child prepared her for success on high school standardized tests.

The sisters want to have the same kind of impact on the students they will teach.

“I plan to be an elementary teacher who helps make a difference in my students’ lives and makes school enjoyable to them,” Elyssa says. “I will definitely make sure they spend at least 15 minutes reading and maybe more.”

“My dream,” says Hailey, “would be to teach either kindergarten or first grade. I want my students to love learning and coming to school every day. I want to teach them how to make the world a better place and how to share their love with others.”

And she wants those future students to fall in love with reading as she did. “Reading is such a great thing,” Hailey says, “and you can learn so much from it! It is also a great bond that can be shared between parents and their children.”

Elyssa wants her students to understands that reading can change their lives. “Reading doesn’t just affect you now,” she says, “but it will affect you in the future as well.”

This week, Hailey and Elyssa took time from busy school schedules to reflect on the books that shaped their reading lives.

FS: What book is your homerun book? Why does this book mean so much to you?

Elyssa: Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss. When I was little, I loved how it flowed and rhymed. In third grade, we made green eggs and ham, and it was such a fun experience.

 Hailey: The Little House on the Prairie series. These books are great books.

FS: Tell us how you came to be a lifelong reader. Was there a person who influenced you as a child? Did you have a teacher or a librarian who encouraged you?

Elyssa: My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Heiserman, because we always had silent reading in the morning, and I loved that time of quietness.

Hailey: I just love reading because I gain so much knowledge and learn from books.

FS: What is your favorite place to read, and when do you make the time for reading? As a child, when and where did you read?

Elyssa: I love reading in my room or a quiet spot with a comfortable place to sit. As a child, I read at school or at home in my living room or my bedroom with my parents.

Hailey: My bed, and I try to make time at night. As a child, I read on the couch in the evening.

FS: If you could pick five books that should be on every child’s bookshelf, what would those books be? And, why?

Elyssa:

  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Frog and Toad Treasury
  • The Rainbow Fish
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  • The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Teasing

Each of these books has lessons to learn; some are simple, and some are a little longer.

Hailey:

  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
  • The Crayon Box That Talked
  • The Rainbow Fish
  • The Little Engine That Could
  • I’ll Love You Forever

These books teach great lessons about life and the loving of others.

FS: What’s your favorite read-aloud book? Please tell us about it!

Elyssa: Oh, the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss. It is catchy and gives children hope that they can do great things. It is also colorful, so it grabs little kids’ attention.

Hailey: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? It’s about being kind to others, and this world needs more kindness.

FS: Do you have a favorite library? Bookseller? If so, please describe a little and tell us why.

Elyssa: I loved reading in my school library, because I didn’t read a ton of books, but it had enough choices, and it wasn’t overwhelming. It was also very quiet, so I could easily focus.

 Hailey: I love getting books from Scholastic orders because they are good books that don’t cost much.

FS: What else would you like to add on the topic of books and reading?

Elyssa: Kids need access to a variety of books, and they shouldn’t be scary. Kids should be able to learn a nice lesson from the books they read.

Hailey: Books are a great way to help with language development, and reading is a great way to learn about the world around you.

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To find out more about First Step’s initiative to help every kid find her or his own homerun book, or for information on any of First Step’s programs, please contact us:

Address: P.O. Box 1103 Fostoria, OH 44830

Office Phone: 419.435.7300

Email: info@firststepweb.org

Website: http://firststepweb.org

Photo for this post provided by Hailey and Elyssa Theis

A Piggie Hits It Right Out of the Park

Meet Tress Reed:

Tress Reed

“Reading enables us to be transported to places and the life experiences of other people we may never meet in real life.”

  • She’s pastor of Grace Outrageous Ministry.
  • She’s a hospital chaplain at Mount Carmel Healthcare in Columbus.
  • She’s a wife.
  • She’s a mom.
  • She’s Grammie.
  • She has a Master of Arts in Family Ministry from Winebrenner Theological Seminary.
  • She’s a resident of Westerville, Ohio.
  • She served on the First Step Board of Director for eight years; she was president of the Board for four of those years.
  • She loves to read.

Tress’s home run book is Piggie Pie.
Below, she tells us why.

Piggie Pie

My home-run book is Piggy Pie by Margie Palatini. I cannot remember how I came across this book originally, but it has become our family favorite! I have read it to all four of my children, my three (almost four!) grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. It is silly and playful and MUST be read with a variety of voices!

While I believe reading should expand our minds, open us to new experiences and views of life from people different than ourselves, I also believe reading should be fun, should bring joy into our lives. Gritch the Witch does just that. The giggles of these kiddos as I would screech, “I want Piggie Pie and I want it now!” are forever etched in my heart. We recently had a baby shower for my daughter, who will be bringing grandbaby #4 into the world. Piggy Pie was one of many little gifts from this grammie.

Every child should have Piggie Pie! on the home library shelf, along with…

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst);
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin, Jr.);
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go (Doctor Seuss);
  • and a Shel Silverstein book.

As I was growing up, I watched both of my parents continually reading. Mom was crime novels and romance paperbacks. Dad was crime novels and ‘how-to’ manuals! Coming up through middle and high school, I began reading crime novels (a love I still have today) and books that were popular during that time. Remember Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret?

Over the years, my topics and genres have greatly expanded, and today you would find three books in process throughout my house. The range of topics I read are diverse. Historical fiction. Theology. Contemplative literature. Stories of tangled family dynamics.

I do not enjoy light fluffy books or romance. I want my brain stretched. I enjoy books that make me pause at the end of a paragraph and think about what I just read. As far as where I love to get books: ANYWHERE! Book stores, used book stores, Goodwill, garage sales, Amazon, and from friends.

I have my comfy cuddler chair that fits me with my dog curled beside me, or a grandchild nestled in. This is where I typically read at home. I regularly take a book with me to the doctor, airport, or to a park to enjoy the outdoors and get lost in a story. Call me old school, but I still love a physical book. Rarely do I purchase a Kindle version (usually only if there is a $1.99 special on it!)

I am a bit of a book ‘destroyer’. I highlight, underline, write notes in margins, dog ear. As I do a lot of writing for sermons, spiritual direction, and counseling, I often use book quotes as encouragement and examples in these settings.

Reading, I believe, is vital to every aspect of our lives. Scholastically, it adds to our language, comprehension, understanding, communication, and absorption of every other subject in life.

Beyond that, however, is where I find the true value. Reading enables us to be transported to places and the life experiences of other people we many never meet in real life. It offers us the opportunity to live the adventures and horrors of other people, people in war torn counties, people who have endured abuses in our own country, travelers who climb Mount Kilimanjaro (which I’ll never do!), redeemed people who have made horrible mistakes and overcome them to be life-giving fellow humans.

Reading helps us to understand the hows and whys of the life choices and life stances of people so very different than ourselves. This is what helps all of humanity to broaden our love and acceptance of diversity, lessen hatred and exclusion. We don’t have to agree on it all, but can we understand why another person believes or lives that way? Reading connects cultures and lifestyles, continents, and families. We really are not all so different at our central beings. Expansive reading brings the world together.

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To find out more about First Step’s initiative to help every kid find her or his own homerun book, or for information on any of First Step’s programs, please contact us:

Address: P.O. Box 1103 Fostoria, OH 44830

Office Phone: 419.435.7300

Email: info@firststepweb.org

Website: http://firststepweb.org

Photos for this post provided by Tress Reed.