Story Experience (Jan. 10,2006)
When I was 9 years old my parents got me the book Heidi
, by Johanna Spyri. As I grew up I read this story repeatedly to myself (many times well into the night). This book is about a little girl, named Heidi, who goes to live with her grandfather on the Alps. Throughout the book Heidi makes friends with characters who are all dealing with their own losses. For example, Heidi's friend Klara is a character in the novel who cannot walk, the grandmother is blind and Heidi's grandfather isolates himself from the rest of the community. As the story progresses Heidi's caring attitude and her loving ways slowly brings the people in the community together until the last chapter in which all the characters in the novel are brought together at the grandfather's house on the Alps. The story ends with "Heidi and grandfather lived happily ever after". I loved the language of this book which has a fairy tale quality, descriptive wording and a lightness that characterizes the tone of the story. I think what made this book special to me was that my grandfather and I had a very close relationship and reading this story helped me to grieve and remember all the fun that we had together before he passed away. I did not think about it at the time but I think that the feel of the book was also a reason why I loved it so much. The book is a small, hardcover that has very glossy, picture like pages. When I picked up the book last night, from my shelf at home, just the feel of it brought back my childhood memories of reading. I believe that Heidi
provided me comfort at a time in my life when I was not able to understand the complex aspects of life and I believe that even as an adult this book continues to provide comfort.
I have one strong memory linked to story telling. My mom would always read to my sister and I the books Twas the Night Before Christmas
on Christmas Eve, before we went to bed. Usually we read the books together snuggled up in blankets anticipating Santa's visit. These books were very special to my sister and I because they only came out on Christmas Eve and we loved them. Even now I think about these books when Christmas comes around and I cannot wait until the time when I can read them to my own children.
When I think about my childhood experiences with books I have realized that in many cases the stories themselves are blurry and that what I remember the most is the feelings that well up when I think about them. These feelings are connected to my life experiences and to the people that have held the most important places in my heart. I believe that reading to children and allowing children to choose their own books is important for this reason. Reading should provide children with many different types of experiences and positive memories. Consequently, I believe that it is important for children to read in their first languages as well as their second, to expose children to different genres of children's books and to give children the opportunity to express their ideas on books they have read from their unique perspective.