Common Core Standards

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Books and More BOOKS!

I wrote in my last blog how my granddaughter, Kyah, fuels me to continue writing my Holly Wild series for kids. I originally had wanted to write more about how I started on this writing path because I was around her age when I really got into books. But I figured that subject deserved its own blog, just as Kyah deserved her own blog. So to celebrate the completion of my first draft of Holly Wild Book 2 today, I dedicate this blog to those who helped set me upon this bookly path!

Today, Lisa was on her way to the Pinckney Library to pick up my books for me when she came into my office and said, "Whoa, we have so many books." My response:  Yes, we do.

We have a library on every level of the house. Just yesterday, Marie jput a new book shelf in the living room to hold more! Yes, books we have. Books on nature, art, science, kid's books, picture books, fairy tales, Native American legends, philosophy, poetry, nature guides, painting guides, nature writers, nature artists, writing, animals, wild and tame, cats, chickens, crafting, skinning, hunting, fishing and how-to-do all of the above books, and the list goes on and on. I think books are holding this house together. I told Lisa, "I don't trust a house without books."
When did this start, how did it all begin?

Baby Lori, Dad, and 101
One Hundred and One Dalmatians. My father read this to me. It is what was done before bedtime, bathroom time, anytime. I craved more story. Bobby Dog and Tommy Goes Camping. Picture books were a an important staple. We lived in Pontiac until 1964, when we moved to Clarkston. And during those days in the city of Pontiac, my mother made sure my brother and I had outdoor adventure. Picnics were had in our yellow Lone Ranger Pup Tent. So this is where our adventure was born as well as the love of tents. (My brother, Mark, grew up to be a Ranger in the Airborne and did all kinds of nifty outdoor adventure.) We owe it all to the Lone Ranger.

Then on to Clarkston we went, a wildlife and wooded wonderland. Five acres of ponds and pines to play in and camp in. At age 9, my mother took me to the Clarkston Library (in a small white building today next to the old township hall) where sunlighted streamed in through the windows and shone upon shelves of many books! Glorious books! (I worked as a Page for the Goodrich Library in 2000--their little library reminded me of this tiny library that had had such a great impact on my life).

The first books I checked out were Paddington Bear (I ordered an Anniversary copy today--I love the original art) and The Waterbabies. I poured over the illustrations repeatedly and checked out the mximum limit I could get. We didn't have many books at home, so when my mother went shopping she would bring home an encyclopedia or a sale book from the local parochial school. (We had ten encyclopedias A-Am, and I learned to speak German from that sale book). On those shopping trips she might find magazines for us and I got Jack and Jill Magazine and Mark got Golden Magazine. But I usually took his magazine. I was so desperate for the written word that I once pulled his arm of socket on the way to the mailbox to get the summer Weekly Reader.
Storytelling ran strong in my blood and brain. These books helped that along I think. My imaginative tales once had my sister and cousin quivering in a corner when they babysat my brother and baby sister, Lisa, and me. After coming up with a whopper of a tale and seeing their panicked response...well, a storyteller and performer was born.

Lori age 4, Mark age 3, in Pontiac
I was a book junkie. Fifth grade brought Charlie Brown Peanuts Treasury and book fairs. We had a real, live poet come in to school and I bought a signed copy. It's still on my shelf today. Then came Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain (I went to an Illustration talk at Kendall last week and heard that Jean still writes, traveled to Alaska for her latest book and she is 92 years old!) A book of adventure in the forest. I lived in a forest. And it was a chapter book with pictures! Love it. I reread it last year and the sequels, too.

In 6th grade, my teacher Mrs. Jordan helped push me onto this literary path. I can still see the green construction paper-covered Twelve Days of Christmas book I made in her class. But I will never forget her words. She told me that this is what I should do when I grew up. I have held on to those words for an entire what you say to children, you just might affect their lives and plant dreams!
My grandmother brought National Geographic magazines when she visited me and also gave me books every Christmas--those books were gold to me. I still can see their covers. Lassie and Bobbsey Twins. Birthday books I remember;  one from my sister, Joan, Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. (I treasured that for its art and lyrical writing. It may be the first book that got me into myth and legends. I wish I had that version today) and 365 Short Stories Book from my friend Connie (see below).

As an adventure loving, nature child, storyteller, art making child (I made puzzles, mazes, board games and books from scratch) my life was steeped in the world of story and secret language. I partly took shorthand in high school because it's cool to write and have no one else know what you wrote. They should bring that back! Secret languages also includes petroglyphs and runes--but they came later as an adult. While I'm on the subject I won't even mention my love for secret decoding or the fact that I "borrowed' my friends secret PF Flyer (tennis shoes) decoder ring as a child. Sorry, Connie. Such was my desire for the written word--secret or otherwise. Oh, and I always wanted to be a comedian as a kid and adult and perform. of course, it's all about story and delivery.

So by taking all those things and dumping them in a bucket, I came out a children's writer and illustrator. I can crack corny jokes about scientifical things and draw pictures to help kids learn about the natural world. It's a perfect fit. And all these people and many more, helped me in small ways. This is why with every book I sign, I want to say something that will connect with the reader. Something that will give them some word of encouragement--just like those who encouraged me.

Lori Eiden, Kindergarten,
Andersonville Elementary
So remember those who gave you a special book.

A book that impressed you, made you laugh, made you cry, that taught you something, made you feel something or care about something and then tell that person thank you. Send them an email or better yet a card with stickers and drawings.

Now say a silent thank you if they are no longer here.

Thank you,

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful look into your childhood and the reason why you love books so much! I am so sad that I didn't keep many of my childhood books, but I do have a few. Books were a huge part of my childhood as well; luckily I had a father who was also an avid reader & never said "no" when I wanted a new book! :)