Wednesday, Sept 25 is Raise-a-Reader day across Canada. The event, sponsored by The Vancouver Sun, started here in Vancouver in 1997. In the Raise-a-Reader supplement of the newspaper you will find two Burnaby teacher-librarians, Aliana Boden and Jeannine Anstee writing about a favourite book from their childhood.
Aliana Boden, teacher-librarian at Buckingham and Lochdale
As a child, my favourite books were the Lord of the Rings series. My dad started me off small with the Hobbit, and then we worked up to the epic tale of the battle against Mordor. He wasn’t a fan of the typical age appropriate picture books, so my bedtime stories revolved around ring wraiths and Gollum. They were heroic battles, read with passion from tattered tomes. I dreamt of elves and dwarves, goblin slaying swords, and hairy hobbit feet. I was positive my dad might have actually been Gandalf, and I named my stuffed animals Frodo (although, I admit that trusty Sam is now my favourite). Growing up, I was never intimidated by thick novels because I had discovered that there was magic inside of them; a magic I still believe in, and try to share with my students when they come through my library doors.
Jeannine Anstee, teacher-librarian at Rosser
Back in the 1990’s, as a teacher-librarian in Burnaby, I had a class read my favourite children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a phone conversation with my sister I discovered that this too had been her favourite book growing up. We both agreed it had been the most unique story either of us had ever read when we were young. I had the class write letters to the author (no emails, tweets or social media then) and I too sent a note relating the discovery of our shared love of
the Newbery Award winning book. Madeleine L’Engle wrote back to express her appreciation of my sharing of the newly discovered connection between two sisters – her book! It is this book and this sharing moment between two sisters and an author that I so fondly remember.
Here are some more profiles submitted by Burnaby teachers and teacher-librarians.
From Cascade Heights – Karen Lehnert, on the left, and Heidi Wilson, on the right
From Karen Lehnert, teacher-librarian:
The first time I read Rutgers and the Water-Snouts (1969) by Barbara Dana, I was hooked. Over the course of my grade 4 year during the 1970’s, I repeatedly checked-out the book from our school library. I adored the main character, Rutgers (a bulldog), so much, that I even had a stuffed bulldog with a sweater just like him. Years ago, I began looking for a copy of this book when I came upon a box of my old stuffed animals; there was Rutgers, albeit a little dusty. I started my search at local bookstores to no avail. Even searches on the Internet yielded no results, and none of the local public libraries had a copy. In 2002, I got lucky; it was listed by an online used books store. I bought the book (1972 reprint), and the story still makes me smile, and think about my school library.
From Heidi Wilson, French Immersion teacher:
As long as I can remember, I have always been a reader; so much so that my first words were “Come on read it to me.” What makes my reading adventure different is that I learned to read for the first time twice. Once as a preschooler and the second time as a grade six student. In grade six I entered late French Immersion and began a lifelong love of this language and its’ literature. The book that stands out the most for me is Le petit Nicholas by Sempé and Goscinny. This book grabbed me at a young age because of the simple illustrations that helped me better understand the hilarious adventures of this little French schoolboy and his friends. Even though reading in a second language was at first not easy, it was worth the hours spent with my dictionary. This book truly began my love affair with reading in “la langue de Molière” that I try to convey to my students as a French Immersion teacher daily.
From Heather Roberts, teacher-librarian at Nelson Elementary:
One of my favourite books as a child was Corduroy by Don Freeman. Reading it is one of my earliest memories of reading. This story about a teddy bear wandering around a department store and hoping he will be bought and loved appealed to me as a young reader. I loved its storyline, simple words, clear message about belonging and love, and its happy ending. As I grew older and began reading bigger, thicker books, Corduroy still held a spot on my bookshelf; I just couldn’t part with it. Close to 30 years later, I have shared this story numerous times with students in my library and my own two children. Its simplicity, message and magic still relevant so many years after I first read it. And my copy of Corduroy from my childhood? It is framed and hanging proudly on the wall in my son’s bedroom.
From Stephanie Watt, teacher at Nelson Elementary:
My favourite book as a child was Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess. I grew up reading fairy tales and I loved how this book took the regular formula of “…and the prince and princess live happily ever after” and turned it on its head. Elizabeth takes the situation she’s given, fights for her man while being very clever, but realizes in the end that she’s not being treated the way she deserves and dances off into the sunset after calling Ronald a “bum.” I would like to think that The Paper Bag Princess had an impact on the self respect I have and it’s instilled a love for Robert Munsch books that I share with my students year after year. It’s the first book I read to my class every year in September and I love throwing on a paper bag and dressing up as the princess on Halloween!
From Liz Cramb, teacher at Buckingham Elementary:
When I was very young, I became enthralled with a series called the “Famous Five” by Enid Blyton. The first book was given to me by my beloved grandparents from Brentwood Bay B.C. My grandfather owned a record store in Oak Bay; around the corner was Ivy’s Bookstore. That store became my favourite place to go when I had saved up enough money to buy a new book. Whenever I received a new book, I would race home, hurry to do my chores, and then escape to my room and curl up to go on the adventures with these five brave children and their dog as I read their story . They had exotic drinks like ginger beer and went to places I would never have been allowed to explore like caves, lighthouses and circuses. These books were my lifeline to the adventures I could not even dream of having.
From Brenda Hain, teacher-librarian at Stoney Creek and Parkcrest:
When I was a child, my favourite book was Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. Perhaps I loved it because it was the first book that I was able to read independently and that made me feel so grown up. But looking back now, I think it was my favourite because I cared so deeply about the baby bird who set off on a quest to find his mother. The day I developed empathy for that fictitious character was the day I became a lifelong reader.