In my sixth grade classes we are writing narrative poems about our lives and memories, about where we come from that have been inspired by George Ella Lyon’s poem Where I’m From. Inspired by this format, here is my reading life in the form of a free verse poem…
Reading and Where It All Began
I am from my mother, a first grade teacher and a
home filled with books- borrowed, traded, and well loved
I am from books for Christmas and for birthdays and for Easter and for Tuesdays
I am from Bugs Bunny and Too Many Carrots read time and time and time again that when Dad tried to skip lines, I caught him.
I am from Amelia Bedelia and all of her silly adventures
from knock-knock books, the only genre that was limited to me as a child
I am from Dorie the Witch at Halloween to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas* in December
I am from library cards and summer reading clubs
from book reports and bookcases
I am from crinkly book jackets and musty school libraries
in the basement of the convent at Holy Cross School-
from Sr. Helen who introduced me to friends like Ramona Quimby,
the Strawberry Girl, and Nancy Drew
I am from the giant orange book of Greek myths and the
enormous red dictionary at my grammy’s house
I am from Scholastic book orders
from reading under the covers at night
to sharing a living room couch cuddling with
I am from Anne Shirley, my kindred spirit and
Harriet the Spy who inspired me to watch and observe and write-
I am from visiting the library and stopping at the “H” shelf to see where
MY book will someday be.
I am from Anne Morrow Lindberg and Adriana Trigiani
from Shel Silverstein and Emily Dickinson
I am from books and authors that changed my life
from Margaret Atwood to Martha Beck from
Anita Diamant to Anne Lamott-
I am from a life led by books and reading
Should I adopt? How do people write?
How can I deal with my Dad’s death?
The questions of my life find their answers in books
Reading brings me answers, it brings me peace, sometimes
it brings more questions
I am from reading, from authors, from libraries, from bookstores,
I am from books.
*A short story about the power of reading…my Dad read ‘Twas the Night before Christmas to my sister and I every year. He read it even when we’d roll our eyes and say, “Daaaaaaaad!” He read it when we stayed out late on Christmas Eve with our friends. There was no escape. He even would call us and read it over the phone after my parents divorced. Secretly we loved it. Six years ago this past September, my dad got very sick with an aneurism in his heart. I flew across the country to spend Christmas with him. Still weak, he couldn’t read Twas the Night before Christmas. I bought him his very own copy (just like the one he’d read to us as kids…with the same illustrations and everything). I cuddled up in bed with him and read it to him. It’s one of my most favorite memories of my dad. He died that March…but every Christmas, I still read it…out loud to myself and I know that he’s somewhere listening to me.
Michelle Haseltine is in her eighteenth year of education. Currently spending her days with sixth graders in Loudoun County, VA reading and writing. Michelle is a Teacher-Consultant with the Northern Virginia Writing Project and continues to search for the book she’s destined to write. She can be found at twitter as @mhaseltine and at her blog mshaseltine.edublogs.org