Marie Prys provides administrative support to MacGregor Literary’s agents as well as overseeing contracts and informational databases. She hails from the Northwest, lives in Richmond, VA, and enjoys a blessed life with her husband and four children. Reading is a favorite pastime she is always trying to find more time for.
When it comes to favorite books, I would be remiss if I didn’t cover Children’s fiction. As a child I was sometimes punished with having whatever book I was reading be taken away until a misdeed had been rectified—such as completing neglected chores. (This was, by the way, very effective, as I was always reading.) As an adult I am again re-reading old favorites with my children, or sometimes just living vicariously through them as they find my old favorites, and together we’ve even discovered new reading gems. Reading in this way creates communion, interaction, and special memories, but it also teaches.
When my daughter got hooked on the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it was an addiction for me to ask her where she was in the series and what was going on. I relished her enjoyment of the descriptions of sisterhood (Laura is going to be Mary’s eyes now), her disdain for Nellie Olson (She deserved the leeches!), and her anticipation of what would happen when Almanzo Wilder came on the scene. And as she was reading, she learned geography, American pioneer-era history, and about the intricacies of family relationships.
The scene was no different when my son discovered J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. We discussed the pros and cons of mail by owl (how do the owls know where to go?), and Harry’s incredible successes in Quidditch (It would be the coolest game if it were real), and I taught him how to play chess after he read about Wizard Chess and realized we had that game. Going more deeply into his reading, we also considered what Muggles were and drew parallels to WWII, and considered how people groups should be treated, and what history and the Bible teach us.
During a recent trip we listened to an audio version of P. L. Travers Mary Poppins, and, much to my delight, it was well received by all (it can be hard to please everyone) and led to a great discussion of how the original book was similar (and completely different) from the Disney movie version.
It also warms my heart that my two older children, in spite of their reading proficiency, still enjoy tuning in when I read aloud to the younger two. Last week we started Roald Dahl’s Danny and the Champion of the World. The following passage (p. 34) brought great enjoyment:
“…Whenever my dad thought up a new method of catching pheasants, he tried it out on a rooster first to see if it worked.”
“What are the best ways?” I asked.
My father laid a half-eaten sandwich on the edge of the sink and gazed at me in silence for about twenty seconds. “Promise you won’t tell another soul?”
“Now here’s the thing,” he said. “Here’s the first big secret. Ah, but it’s more than a secret, Danny. It’s the most important discovery in the whole history of poaching.”
He edged a shade closer to me. His face was pale in the pale yellow glow from the lamp in the ceiling, but his eyes were shining like stars.
“So here it is,” he said, and now suddenly his voice became soft and whispery and very private. “Pheasants,” he whispered, “are crazy about raisins.”
“Just ordinary raisins. It’s like a mania with them….”
[Stop my reading here as I explain what “mania” and “poaching” are.] Then, without missing a beat, one eager listener raises the question I should have expected: “Mom, do you think our chickens would like raisins too?”
Um, no, I think we should leave the raisins to those who poach pheasants. (And yes, I moved both the bag of Craisins and the box of raisins to the top shelf of the pantry right after our reading that night.)
Thanks, Roald Dahl, for great moments spent reading your stories, and for ideas that will likely lead to some experimentation in my very own backyard, but also hours of enjoyment and memories with my kids.
What children’s books stand out in your memory as great reads, and have you shared them with your own kids? Please leave a comment as I’m always on the lookout for more great books to read.