Ever So Grateful
Any and all novelists can tell different stories of their childhood and how they came to love story and books. Although we had precious few books in our home as I was growing up, I was blessed to have teachers in elementary school who began the day reading aloud to us. This is where I encountered the Little House books, Uncle Wiggily, Mary Poppins, Betsy-Tacy, The Boxcar Children and on and on. Six years worth of daily reading. I look back now and celebrate the richness of that experience and never cease to be ever so grateful.
From time to time I wonder where I might be, or what might have happened differently had my love of story not be fed in such a profound manner. And then I take to wondering how much our children of this generation are missing because they are not being read aloud to. (I should say most are not being read aloud to.) So many other things to do, to see, to listen to… Jam-packed schedules for both parents and children.
Eudora Welty’s Memories
I was particularly impressed by this account of Eudora Welty’s growing up years in the then-small town of Jackson, Mississippi. (She was born in 1909.)
I learned from the age of two or three that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to. My mother read to me. She’d read to me in the big bedroom in the mornings, when we were in her rocker together, which ticked in rhythm as we rocked as though we had a cricket accompanying the story. She’d read to me in the diningroom on winter afternoons in front of the coal fire, with our cuckoo clock ending the story with “Cuckoo,” and at night when I’d got in my own bed. I must have given her no peace. Sometimes she read to me in the kitchen while she sat churning and the churning sobbed along with any story… She was an expressive reader. When she was reading “Puss in Boots,” for instance, it was impossible not to know that she distrusted all cats. (One Writer’s Beginning by Eudora Welty)
It Takes Little Effort
I’m not foolish enough to believe that times can be like this again. I’m sure mothers will not be reading to the children and churning at the same time. But it takes little effort to turn off the electronic devices – television and iPad and iPhone included – and cuddle up with a good book. It takes little effort to make weekly trips to the library and check out an armload of books and take off on amazing adventures together.
Who knows how many little future novelists are waiting to be nurtured by hearing stories being read aloud, by hearing the fine distinction of a well-written plot, traveling to distant lands in their growing imaginations, and learning more about human nature? Who knows how many little future novelists are waiting this very minute for a lap, a book-lover, a child-lover, and an expressive voice?
Many readers through past decades owe a debt of thanks to Eudora Welty’s mother (Chestina Andrews Welty) who not only took the time to read to her daughter, but made sure she was surrounded by a robust supply of the best books.
I pray for her kind to be replicated yet today.
In the six-month writing course that I call the Be A Novelist, Six-Month, Finish-My-Novel Challenge we talk a great deal about what might stand in the way of your novel creation! It will be like looking into a mirror as you see yourself more clearly. This course offers six full months of guidance and instruction. Guaranteed to light a fire under your novel-writing attempts and to launch you into a pattern of consistent writing! Details right here!