This letter is about my parents helping me find that reading is my rainbow connection. You know those letters that get posted on some blog somewhere that are really sappy? Well, this is about to be one. So, grab some crackers to nibble on with the cheese that is coming your way.
Dear Mom and Dad,
Did you know I have found my rainbow connection? And that it’s because of you?
I have been thinking a lot about books lately. Maybe that’s an odd topic to ponder when you have three young kids and really don’t have a lot of time to do pretty much anything. And yet, books have become increasingly important to me in my life. I don’t think I’ve adequately thought about or expressed gratitude for your role in bringing me and books closer together.
When I first became a mother to my own child, I instinctively decided I wanted to ask for children’s books for my baby shower. Somehow I knew – I just knew – that books would need to be an important part of our home. And then I started to wonder, like songs about rainbows, why are there so many children’s books, and what’s on the other side?
Fast forward to today, a house in constant chaos of why-can-I-never-see-the-floor and would-you-just-stop-yelling-so-loudly, and I am spending my time writing a letter about the new way I know books are important. I’ve done the research, talked with the experts, read the science and seen the effect of reading to my own children.
More importantly, I’ve begun to see the effect of reading on myself. Not just now, but the reading I did when I was my own children’s ages and into my pimple-picking years. And it dawned on me, that when I most believed in myself and when I have been chasing after my dreams, books have always been involved.
In today’s world, many things look different than when I held my blue library card over my head to place it on the check-out desk. And no doubt because of these differences, parents are trying to problem solve in different ways. Like my old, cracked library card, the solutions of the past seem to be tucked away as memorabilia suitable only to days gone by.
We look to social fulfillment and educational screentime and booking our children in dozens of activities to pad their college applications – and what do we think we might see? We’re looking for fulfillment, for success, for joy for our children and families. “Someday we’ll find it,” we think.
But I found those things and was at peace with myself when I was going to the library every week. I felt most loved when you read about Gregory the goat’s terrible diet or when we giggled at Tacky’s not-so-perfect songs about fish with toes. I was most confident when I returned library books after reading them and having an opinion about them. I felt the most in control when you let me choose new books and repeat books over, and over, and over again until the library had to retire the book and you asked on our behalf to keep it ourselves. I felt the most heard when you knew what a Nimbus 2000 is and empathized with me when my magic potion jars exploded in the freezer and you told me everyone has a “Nevil day” every now and then. I felt the most creative when copying pictures of whales from our nature encyclopedia or sitting in a tree singing a song I made up “in character” from my most recent read.
I feel the most supported when you go out of your way to read a book on Marco Polo to my kids and pull them onto your lap for a book during the bedtime routine while my jet-lagged self wrangles pajamas onto them. I feel connected to our family across the globe when the kids get to talk about a book together. I feel relieved knowing my bookcase and closet will still have my most treasured books on them whenever I can be forever reunited with them.
From never limiting the books we got at the library sales and going to every yard sale that listed books to donating a book every time the Scholastic book fair came to school, to making sure I always had the money for my textbooks in college, you taught me directly and indirectly how important books are.
So thank you for being a part of passing on the rainbow connection – to the lovers, the dreamers, and me.
Reading is my Rainbow Connection – books my siblings and I loved from our childhood
Me First – by Ellen Rudin
The Little Mailman of Bayberry Lane
Valentine Cats – by Jean Morzollo
Big Books (Pictured is Squirrels All Year Long by Melvin Berger) These were oversized books intended for classrooms and libraries
Go, Dog. Go! by PD Eastman
Berenstain Bears (series) – by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s – by Dr. Seuss
Little Critter (series) – by Mercer Mayer
Gregory, the Terrible Eater – by Mitchell Sharmat
Standin’ Tall (series) – by Janeen Brady (books on tape with accompanying books)
Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch
Boxcar Children (series) – originally written by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Redwall (series) – by Brian Jacques
The Babysitter’s Club (series) – by Ann M Martin
Dear America (series) Pictured here is A Picture of Freedom; The Diary of Clotee, A Slave Girl
Harry Potter (series) – by JK Rowling
Nancy Drew (series) – by Carolyn Keene
Holes – by Louis Sachar
Maniac Magee – by Jerry Spinelli
Ella Enchanted – by Gail Carson Levine
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy (series)
American Girl (series) pictured here is Changes for Kaya
Hatchet (series)- by Gary Paulsen
Animorphs (series) – by KA Applegate
Where the Sidewalk Ends – by Shel Silverstein
Star Wars (series) Pictured here is Heirs of the Force by Kevin J Anderson
If reading is also your rainbow connection…
This letter is a thank you to Mark and Jean Yockey, interviewed in Episode 33: How We Read with grandparents Jean and Mark Yockey. Listen and share this letter and episode with the caregivers, parents and grandparents you appreciate for fostering a love of reading in you.