Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why I'm Glad I Didn't End Up Teaching Math

On the NaBloPoMo site, there's a Writing Prompts group. Obviously, I have not used their wealth of information; otherwise all my posts might have had some interest and/or direction!

Yesterday I visited and saw a Daily Prompt thread with all kinds of ideas. And since I am very tired with zero ideas, I figured I'd take advantage of it tonight (the thread, not the thoughtless fatigue).

From Nov 2: what's your favourite childhood book, and why?

In case you're new, I'll remind you that it is physically impossible for me to choose favorites. Partly because I rebel against certain rules (but unimportant ones like "choose only one") and mostly because I'm terribly indecisive.

So I thought I'd make a list and discuss several influential books from my childhood.

--The first book I ever "read" by myself was "Marvin K Mooney, Will You Please Go Now?" I always felt sorry for him and related to him feeling unwanted and unhappy.

--I loved reading The Baby-Sitters Club books. My dad used to take me to this great local bookstore called Rainy Day Books; the kids' books were at the back of the store and I used to excitedly rush there to look for the new book each month. That store had the classic homey bookstore smell that doesn't truly exist in the big box stores. In the books themselves, I admired all the girls for their different strengths, but I think mostly I was fascinated by their friendships. I had no real friends growing up and desperately wished for a group of solid friends like they had.

--Sometime in elementary school I must have read a Wrinkle In Time. I had loved science in school and after reading this book, I've always had a fondness for mitochondria. And I've always remembered the illustration with the string, showing the time 'wrinkle.'

--By sixth grade I had already read Anne of Green Gables several times. I remember randomly asking a sub if she knew what the word 'fortnight' meant. I had come across it so many times and had a vague idea but didn't know for sure. Big help, she didn't know either. I think we looked it up and discovered it meant two weeks.

--Later on I finished reading the series. We learn about Anne's friends and her children. The last one, Rilla of Ingleside, is a coming-of-age story during World War I. Rilla begins as a spoiled and silly girl, but ends up taking care of an infant and winning the heart of a handsome and gallant young soldier, who happens to be the son of Anne's friends Leslie and Owen. It was so sweepingly romantic. It made me wish to be strong and desirable like her.

--Then I happened upon A Girl of the Limberlost. Eventually it reminded me a little bit of Annie, because the plucky main character overcomes many terrible obstacles. In this one, the heartless mother ignores her, but the girl, determined, collects exotic moths from their swamp to pay for her education. The mother eventually grows a heart and gives herself a physical and mental makeover. The girl finds romance with a man sent to the country to recover from illness. Near the end, he steals her glove for her ring size and presents a beautiful emerald. Of course the girl refuses at first, scared. But he wins her over, the mother is revealed to be loving after all, and all's well that ends well. Except upon the many rereadings, the character (Eleanor! That's her name) gets irritating. All that determination and beating the odds, blah blah blah.

--The Secret Garden. I received several versions of this book in elementary school but didn't read it for a couple years. When I finally did, the beginning of the story did not interest me. In fact, it confused me and I probably tried to reread. It never really explained who was who and what the hell was going on. And Mary was such a crankypants! Not lovable at all. I wanted to slap her dour and snobby pale face. But the description of the moors was fascinating; I envisioned it as eternally gray and foggy, all flat, swampy ground covered in brush. Then the mysterious wall, with the secret door, and the friendly bird who leads her to uncover the key. Ooh, the excitement! The intrigue! Finally she befriends the equally dour and unlovable Colin, only Mary is now transforming, and then Colin begins to transform and oh, the hints of romance! The secrecy! I fairly wriggled in delight. And of course father and son are reunited, and they love each other. All are healed and healthy.

I loved reading, and I still do. You can always escape into a book, completely forgetting the real world. You envision yourself in those characters. Would you do what they do? Would you be like them? Would you be friends with them? What would you tell them to do? I tell you, there is nothing better than a good book.


jonathan said...

What's that got to do with not teaching math?

Miss B said...

Ann of Green Gables and the Baby-Sitter's Club are awesome! I also raced to the bookstore constantly looking for the newest edition.

Is she still writing them?

Great list :)