Summer Reading Updated

18Aug15

Some people spend their summer traveling, but I spent my vacation time reading and researching. I have been designated researcher for a group of friends going away on vacation. It is one of my strengths to research and summarize what I learned. Part of research is also preparing myself for the school year and deep research.

Regular readers will know that I switched to school libraries, subsequently I still have a lot of learning to do about great authors and books in kid lit. Classics like Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and contemporary work by Gordon Korman are well known to me. But I am only scratching the surface of the children’s literature canon. Summer is the best time to read more in depth.

When I told friends that I am reading “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I get immediate recognition and even leads to 2 movie adaptations. I started reading this middle school novel with some doubt and feeling obliged to. It is on the reading list for novel studies. But the subject was…ugh. Dogs. Now if I had to choose between a dog and a cat for company, it would be cats every time. I have a strong preference.

But I was hooked by the strong narrator’s voice, the rural setting and promise of a good story by the end of the first chapter. Why was the narrator looking fondly at his prize cups, after an encounter with a feisty dog? My interest grew, despite my biases.

Great novels can transcend the personal and explore universal themes. Is it love or loyalty in the story? What kind of trials happen in the boy’s journey? I will let you discover for yourself. Make no mistake that this is a coming of age story, while the legend of the red fern is mentioned at the last possible moment.

If the author Rawls was still alive, I would try to book him as a speaker because the story of writing the novel is equally compelling to my students in rural communities. He longed to be a published author, but felt his lack of education held him back. He and his wife worked as a team on the book. Here is more background on Woodrow W. Rawls.

I always take my second original manuscript of ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ to show the youngsters. I want to stress to them how important it is to learn to spell, punctuate, and mainly how important it is for them to stay in school. They always look at the manuscript in disbelief. I hope I have some effect on these youngsters, I so enjoy each and every one of them.

Rawls quoted in Childhood memories relived, Idaho Falls Public Library

The book is a great read about setting goals, growing up and the relationship of dogs and a boy. The back story of Woodrow W. Rawls is equally engaging. A trip to Idaho Falls, anyone? Here is hoping more good reads for your summer.

  • Brenda
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