And Now a Word From Deb Joelle’s Mother

Yes…that’s right. My mum is here to blog for me! Thanks, Mum. I knew I could count on you to help me out during my crazy week! I love you.

Me and my mum, Linda Anthony!

Joelle has asked me to write her blog this week. She always has liked to do things just a little bit differently from everyone else. (One spring, more than a few years ago, Joëlle’s father and I visited her kindergarten class. Across the room on the bulletin board was a display of identical pink paper cutout bunnies, all with little white cotton tails. Only one had green crayon scallops drawn all around the outside edge. I poked my husband—that’s Joëlle’s. He nodded. It was.) She’s given me a topic, though, lest I stray too far into the gushy realm of baby stories and how cute she was and how much fun—oh, and how smart she was, too. I’m supposed to write about reading. I can do that. We did a lot of reading, from the very beginning, through board books and picture books and chapter books and “real” books, as Joëlle came to call them.

She was two when her brother was born. Every day while he slept, Joëlle and I stretched out on the couch. She stacked a pile of her favorite books on my stomach and we couldn’t stop reading till we’d gone through them all. In those early baby days I was often just a little tired, so I “read” the books I knew by heart with my eyes closed. At barely two, she didn’t read yet, but she knew the words as well as I did—better, actually, since every word I got wrong or out of order, she corrected me.

By the time she was five, I’d read her all of the Little House books. She was so intrigued by Laura’s story that she saved 20 quarters and bought for herself her first hardbound book, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On The Way Home. (I still have it here, Joëlle, any time you want it.) When we looked about for another series, we discovered Betsy and Tacy. I’d never read Betsy-Tacy as a child, though I did remember seeing the books on the library shelf. We gave them a try and we both fell in love with the stories of these two best friends. The books begin with the girls in first grade and move through their lives till they’re grown up, so when we started, Joëlle couldn’t get enough of Betsy and Tacy. There came a time, however, when the events of high school failed to hold her attention, and we found something else to read. But during the day while Joëlle was in school, I got the rest of the books from the library and read them all to myself, wondering why I rejected them as a child. I would have loved them then, too.

In third grade, a chapter or two at night just wasn’t enough, and Joëlle moved on to doing her own reading. That year the third grade classes had a book reading contest. For each book read, they made paper cutouts, showing book title and name of reader. The line of books stretched around the classroom, out the door, and down the hall. When I visited the school, Joëlle showed me all of the more than thirty “books” with her name on them. She told me very seriously that she was “addicted” to reading, one of those priceless comments for which mothers must call upon all their best acting skills to keep from laughing out loud.

I loved reading to my kids when they were little—such precious memories. Thanks, Joëlle, for letting me share a few of them.

11 Replies to “And Now a Word From Deb Joelle’s Mother”

  1. About once a month I would get a Dr. Suess book in the mail. Oh how I looked forward to each book. In a house with a lot of turmoil, the books offered a wonderful escape.

    I very much enjoyed your daughter’s book and I’m sharing it with my students.

  2. Thanks, Mum! You’re the best!!!

    Greg, we got those books in the mail too. Oh, boy! No wonder I love mail so much. There could be books in it. Thanks for making Mum welcome, everyone.

  3. Through your post here, I feel like I’ve actually met you, Linda. Thanks for being the mom of such a dear friend. Joelle is a wonderful person. It doesn’t surprise me that she was addicted to reading as a toddler and child because she still is! And now I know why. As they say here in Tennessee, “You done good.”

  4. What a beautiful post! My own mom instilled in me my love for reading (Little House books were my first, too, along with the Boxcar Children), so this really pulled at my heartstrings!

  5. Thanks for writing, Joelle’s Mom! It was great to have you here today. You must be so proud of your daughter – and of yourself, for nurturing her love of books!

  6. I know the Ball has moved on–congratulations to Deb Emily!–but I wanted to thank everyone for their kind comments. Joelle said you would be nice to me and she was right! Thank you.

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