“Dad, listen to this!”

20140420-202720.jpg

Last night I was searching for a particular book that I wanted to share with my college students in class today.  I had been through every room and looked among every bookshelf and was now upstairs in the secret book room, searching through the piles of our children’s books that we have accumulated over the past 20 years together.  Of course, I got lost in the experience…to be around that many good books and illustrations is like getting caught in a really wonderful rainstorm.  The books were falling everywhere and I was happily caught in their flood.

And then, our youngest daughter (age 9) appeared in the little doorway and said, “Dad, listen to this!”  She was holding a newly discovered book from her school library.  A good friend had read this particular book only a few weeks before and they were talking about it that day, so she checked it out and brought it home to read.  She was about 20 pages in when she came across a couple of pages that she wanted to read to me.

It was a wonderful passage that was very poetic and very solemn, and she read it as though she were auditioning for a Shakespeare play.  Her eyes were alive with these words.  Her voice was alive with these words.  Her physical appearance was alive with these words.  Something about them reverberated somewhere within her young heart.

I’m glad she read to me.  What I heard, I needed to hear.  But what I saw, I will never forget.

Book with Heart

20140216-202713.jpg

In most of our childhoods there have been those books beloved, not because they are marvelous children’s books, but because they are marvelous books. – Anna Quindlen

We had lunch with our family today. It was one of those great big wonderful, noisy, happy birthday meals for our dad (age 73) and our nephew (age 4) where we enjoy food and stories and gift-giving as we laugh and relax among all the inspiring and child-like energy that fills the rooms of my brother and sister-in-law’s home.

In the midst of all this exuberance, I noticed some old books! They were perched on the top of the family’s piano, their covers aged and their spines crackled among various titles. They were beautiful and mesmerized us as the girls and I opened each one to have a look inside.

There were a half dozen first editions of Franklin Dixon’s masterful Hardy Boys series, an early volume of Edgar Allen Poe stories, and a green-tinted 1935 hardcover classic – L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It was this particular book that had, well, heart.

Now for those of you who know and love this book, the story itself is full of heart…but that’s not the kind of heart I discovered when I picked up this story today. Because it was as close to a first edition of this book that I had ever seen in person, I asked my brother-in-law if he knew just what a treasure he had. His answer was from the heart and had nothing to do with its place in literary history.

“Sure,” he said. “One of the first things I ever really knew about my wife was how much she loved that story. Later, I searched high and low for a version of it that she could really cherish. It’s a special book.”

What heart! It’s as good a Valentine story as I’ve heard all week and as good a story about a century-old book as I’ve ever heard.

A children’s classic and a husband in love…it makes me think that’s something worth remembering.

20140216-202756.jpg