Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Season of Green

Luke 8:15 (New International Version)
15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

My life is in the season of green.

I have a flock of grandchildren growing up around me like young shoots; six little people who fill me with delight. The time I spend with them fills me with happiness; my cup overflows with joy.

We have many rituals that bring security and certainty to their lives and I am cognizant that the moments I share with them are significant; that I have an opportunity to inspire, to teach, to build up their young souls.

With Victoria and Tiffany-Amber we regularly snuggle together for one of Peter Black's Parables from the Pond.

Victoria, at 9, is a voracious reader. She devours books and has an insatiable hunger for them, but Tiffany-Amber, 10, while gifted in music and art, struggles with a barrier that makes reading hard.

More than the struggle itself though, I worried about what negative messages she was taking into herself and believing; messages that had the power to act like self fulfilling prophesies.

So when on Saturday I bought a copy of Watership Down by Richard Adams for Victoria; a book she had been longing for, I looked for something to capture Tiffany-Amber's heart, mind and imagination. I found a book entitled, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. It looked perfect. And best of all, I would get to read it out loud!

Victoria clasped Watership Down to her heart with an audible gasp of wonder! One happy child. Tiffany-Amber looked at the book I bought for her and agreed that we could tag it on to our "Pond Sessions."

And so it was that we began The Miraculous Journey...

The book is amazing. Victoria of course, joined us for the reading. They learned what it means when we say that a book is a "page turner." And we stop at every unfamiliar word and they try to come up with its meaning. There is no wrong answer; it is either close or warmer or spot on! I see confidence blossoming in Tiffany-Amber as she guesses rightly that courtesy means politeness.

The book is so gripping that they beg for chapter after chapter, "One more, please!" And yesterday, Tiffany-Amber said, "I don't read--but I'm reading." And what she meant was that she was actually loving a book. And no wonder. They were shocked by the princess who became a warthog, and then was killed an eaten. No sloppy sentimentality, but a book that trusts children with grit and wit!

We three talked about the elements of story, that you have to care what happens to the characters, that there has to be conflict, and Victoria quickly says that a story about a boy that discovers gold mine after gold mine would soon be boring, but if he followed a trail of gold coins and they led him into a terrible place, it would be an exciting story. Their eyes dance with interest.

And tonight, as I read out loud, we are carried further into the wonderful story of the vain, self absorbed china rabbit, I stop at crucial moments of suspense and pass the book to Tiffany-Amber--and she, anxious to know what happens next reads the words out loud. And I laugh with joy!

At our writers group meeting yesterday evening, as we talked about our purpose and goals, Claire said that we stimulate each other and pray for one another, being catalysts for one another’s growth. How wonderful and green all of this is. My favourite colour of all.

12 comments:

Susan said...

I love it!

Grandson Mikey and I are together reading "Owls in the Family" by Farley Mowat. Same reason! The deal is, he reads the first page, I read the rest of the chapter. I tried to entice him to read more, but he just wouldn't. Then the other night I fell asleep reading. When I woke up a few moments later, the book had been pulled gently from my hands and he was reading it on his own - silently. I smiled and went right back to sleep.

Our Jorie, as youngest of nine and "princess" of the family in every possible way, struggled in school, especially in the early years. By the time she was at the end of Grade 4, she was reading words, but struggled to get through a sentence. "I can't read!" She was adamant. There seemed no way to get her over the hump. We went to the cottage for two weeks and took with us your childhood copy of "The Princess and the Goblin" (mentioned recently in a blog post as having been passed on to another of your grandaughters - Katherine. I smiled when I read that! The joy spreads.) Again, the deal was that we had to take turns reading. But I didn't tell her until after I'd read the first chapter! She protested, of course, but by that time she couldn't resist. She HAD to find out what was going to happen next! She stumbled through that second chapter - it was painful - and as I recall, I quickly sized up the need for mercy and helped her out by reading every other paragraph. By the end of that book, though, and our two weeks at the cottage, she was reading fluently and there was no need to help her out at all. Now she is a voracious reader, reading many long and difficult novels which I wouldn't attempt and has a growing library of some pretty impressive books. And she's an excellent writer. She excels at language arts. Maybe she would have begun to read anyway, but I will always be grateful for that two weeks we spent with The Princess and the Goblin!

I love how seriously you take the position of "Omie" to your family. It's an inspiration for me to be more intentional in my relationship with my own adored flock. What a great post all round!

Susan said...

I love it!

Grandson Mikey and I are together reading "Owls in the Family" by Farley Mowat. Same reason! The deal is, he reads the first page, I read the rest of the chapter. I tried to entice him to read more, but he just wouldn't. Then the other night I fell asleep reading. When I woke up a few moments later, the book had been pulled gently from my hands and he was reading it on his own - silently. I smiled and went right back to sleep.

Our Jorie, as youngest of nine and "princess" of the family in every possible way, struggled in school, especially in the early years. By the time she was at the end of Grade 4, she was reading words, but struggled to get through a sentence. "I can't read!" She was adamant. There seemed no way to get her over the hump. We went to the cottage for two weeks and took with us your childhood copy of "The Princess and the Goblin" (mentioned recently in a blog post as having been passed on to another of your grandaughters - Katherine. I smiled when I read that! The joy spreads.) Again, the deal was that we had to take turns reading. But I didn't tell her until after I'd read the first chapter! She protested, of course, but by that time she couldn't resist. She HAD to find out what was going to happen next! She stumbled through that second chapter - it was painful - and as I recall, I quickly sized up the need for mercy and helped her out by reading every other paragraph. By the end of that book, though, and our two weeks at the cottage, she was reading fluently and there was no need to help her out at all. Now she is a voracious reader, reading many long and difficult novels which I wouldn't attempt and has a growing library of some pretty impressive books. And she's an excellent writer. She excels at language arts. Maybe she would have begun to read anyway, but I will always be grateful for that two weeks we spent with The Princess and the Goblin!

I love how seriously you take the position of "Omie" to your family. It's an inspiration for me to be more intentional in my relationship with my own adored flock. What a great post all round!

Night Owl said...

hi Belinda!!
I'm taking Night Owl to a whole new level - 4:30am! :) Just kidding, I'm in another time zone... hehehe... :)
Anyway, I loved both of the green posts! :) My favourite colour.
And I absolutely ADORE Kate DiCamillo. She's an amazing writer!! And The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is an adorable story - I love it! I should try it on my sister - she's not much of a reader either. Maybe when I get home. :)
Love night Owl

Belinda said...

Of course, you are in France, Night Owl! I am so glad you still visited here! I hope that you are having the most wonnderful time and blessing everyone who hears you play. I can't wait to hear all about it. I love that you love Kate DiCamillo, whom I have only just discovered--and by accident. Victoria is reading The Tale of Despareaux and when I Googled Kate, I see thatshe's written a book about a pig, Mercy Watson goes for a Ride; that I just HAVE to read--um, I mean, help Tiffany--Amber to read!

Dave Hingsburger said...

I, too, love the relationship that you have with your grandchildren. Just so as you know those moments will actually last a lifetime. I saw my Grandmother seldomly, once or twice a year, but her grace and her easy way of loving me lit a fire in my heart that hasn't gone out to this very day. When I need warmth, Grandma is there in my mind. I can still smell the smells of her house and feel the warmth of her hug. You have lucky grandchildren ... but you are lucky too, because my Grandmother is living at least part of her eternity, in my heart.

Belinda said...

Susan, thanks for sharing all about Jorie and the Princess and the Goblin, who I was thinking about, of course, as I wrote this post. And what joy that you, too, are leading another little one into the wonderful world that exists inside the covers of books. I love thatit is our hands as grandparents that are being held on this grand journey, but it could also be any older adult friend, who has a little more time than busy parents. Hey, did I really say that we have more time? Perhaps I meant that we have learned what is most important at last!

Belinda said...

Dave, I think of your relationship with Joseph and Ruby. You have your own flock of green sprouts springing up. Isn't it wonderful, this world of children who need adults to lead the way, and the privilege we have of doing so? It makes growing old and "real" worth it; so worth it.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Thanks Belinda, you are right about Joseph and Ruby. One of the last times we saw Joseph he was excitedly telling us that he'd finally read a book that he loved. Like anyone who has that experience, he pressed us to read it. We immediately bought the book and both read it so that the next time we saw him we could talk to him about the book. So on the evening of his graduation we had this great talk about the book and what it meant and about the characters. It was great. So, in with other gifts we snuck a book that we thought, based on the last one, he'd like. I think he's just shy of being hooked on books.

Belinda said...

How wonderful Dave. What magic lies in the pages of books and oh, the joy of turning page after page, under bedclothes by flashlight!

And it is true that books are bridges to hearts and conversation; all of these things rolled into such a neat package.

Angcat said...

Hi Belinda,
This was a lovely post. We are book lovers too. Growing up, that's where I lived, in books. We didn't have T.V., so going to the library to get out another Mary Stewart book, or King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, again, brought such joy.
I love Watership Down.

Reading allowed to the children is so valuable. I know my Mum did that. As you mentioned in a comment, it is hard to find the time as parents sometimes. And finding out what is important is a challenge. But those moments are the ones that last.

Thanks for all this. I'm a green person too.
:-)

MARILYN said...

Great account, Belinda.
And THANK YOU for the book recommendations!
I'll try not to rattle on here, but clearly the post prompted lots of thoughts in everyone.

When I read "Victoria quickly says...if he followed a trail of gold coins and they led him into a terrible place, it would be exciting...," I definitely saw a creative spirit. SHE's been well-placed, with you as grandmom, not to mention all the influences you've surrounded yourself with also coming to bear on her. Keep tending that garden!

Belinda said...

Dear Marilyn,
"Rattle on" as much as you like! :) It's always nice to hear from you.

I just sent a link to your blog, As Good a Day as Any, to the members of our writers group, with a high recommendation. I love it!