Today I am delighted to have my friend Stephanie Karp writing on a subject dear to her heart: reading! Join me as we celebrate the wonder and magic of reading and the joy of passing it on to our children. Take it away, Stephanie!
When I was 10 years old, I couldn’t draw enough books into my life. Nancy Drew, Judy Blume, How Green Was My Valley, Where the Red Fern Grows. Books spilled from my dresser and they piled at the foot of my bed. Books had to be pried from my fingers at the dinner table. Sometimes I actually had my nose buried in a book. I do mean this literally as I truly loved the scent of possibilities created by mere paper and ink.
So it was with alarm and shock that, as my daughter, Eden, grew up — despite seeing me with a book always in my handbag, one in the car, and a never ending pile (still!) on my nightstand — she declared to me that she was not a reader, never would be. Nothing interested her. And would I please stop wishing it were otherwise.
Until … the book that changed her life.
Suggested by a well-read young friend, Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea was a book I purchased from our local bookstore as yet another attempt to find a book to suit my daughter. A novel about one year in the life of a fifth grade class and told through the eyes of seven students, Because of Mr. Terupt tells the story of a class that is deeply affected by their new teacher Mr. Terupt and the tragic accident that touches all their lives. It looked like an intriguing book to me and yet I didn’t have higher hopes than usual.
That is until the first night my daughter excused herself from the dinner table to go read her book. And again, the next night.
Carrying the book in the hallways of her school, she told me that people (many of them teachers) would stop her in the hall to exclaim how much they, too, loved Mr. Terupt.
As Eden’s 4th grade class enjoys silent reading each day, she had a lot of time to spend with these much loved characters. Mr. Terupt and his students were as alive and real as anyone she spent the day with at school.
Finally, after reading slowly for days savoring each page, Eden came to the final chapter. During silent reading at school, her seat neighbor asked her if she was okay — should she get the teacher? Eden’s breathing had quickened, her face had reddened; her chin trembled with the effort of holding back her tears.
That night, at home in bed, Eden finished the book that had changed her life. She was finally able to understand why I loved reading so much. Eden’s world was changed from the moment she cracked open the spine of that book and entered its’ world. The joy, the tragedy, the elation — the depth and breadth of humanity that one experiences when reading a wonderful book is what changes lives. Eden had never allowed herself to feel this way before. Nothing in her life had ever moved her to this degree. The first time it happened, it was because of a book.
And so, while Eden is on to the second book of this series, I pushed aside my own pile of best sellers and have begun to read Because of Mr. Terupt. I am eager to experience the range of emotions my daughter felt while reading the book that made her, finally and forever more, a reader. Just like me.
Looking back on your childhood is there a book that stands out as being the very first to turn you on to reading? And what titles stand out as life-changing for your child or children? Please share.
Formerly from Brooklyn, NY, Stephanie Karp reads and creates stories from her 114 year old home in Westfield, NJ where she lives with her husband and three children. A writer all her life, her passions include adoption advocacy, special education and a good game of tennis. Through their event entertainment company, The Main Event, Stephanie and her husband also help throw fabulous parties — Check out www.TheMainEventOnline.com