little house on the prairie October 06


Where would I be today without books and reading? by Jenny Lussier

Reading has always been an essential part of me. The daughter of two teachers, reading books is one of my earliest memories. Dick and Jane, Have You Seen My Mother?, Dr. Seuss books, and so many more. I headed off to kindergarten already reading. Little House on the Prairie books were my first choice back then and not just to read, but to act out scenes with my dolls or out in the cornfield with my brother. We truly were pioneers. Already I had realized the kind of impact books and stories could have.

I continued to devour books and they continued to affect me in ways I could not have imagined back then. Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. This book sits on the shelf in my living room now. It shook me to realize that some children’s lives were so utterly completely different from mine. While I was captivated back then by this story about an evacuee from London to the countryside, it was the underlying story of the child abuse by the boy’s mother that haunts me to this day. But it also began an obsession with World War II that goes on. I still own my copy of The Endless Steppe.

I was not one of those kids who stopped reading in high school or college (I couldn’t possibly have stopped). I don’t remember many of the titles I read, but certain moments stand out in my mind. I do remember my ninth grade English teacher handing out Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I had never read or experienced anything like it. So I read more and along the way discovered Toni Morrison and Alice Walker and was ecstatic to find whole classes in college devoted to these authors! My college roommate introduced me to Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. Her books are the ones that I read now when I need to disappear for a while ­ to bring myself back to center.

Reading continues to be an essential part of my being today too. I am so fortunate to be a teacher librarian sharing my reading life daily with my kindergarten through fourth grade students and frankly, anyone else who will listen. It is the best job in the world. I give books to students knowing that this book will be the perfect fit ­ that this might be the one that hooks them. I read books aloud to students who cannot help themselves as they clap at the end (authors are their heroes, too). I smile to myself when when a student who has just read Out of My Mind or Wonder wants more, because finally, they have connected with a book and a character. All the more so when we connect with the author too. I am helping them find their essential books.

Books have allowed me a voice to express myself day in and day out. My son has found this to be true as well and his sister is not far behind him. What a rich life we lead because books are an integral part of our lives. Where would I be today without books and reading? I am certain my life would be less full and that something essential would certainly be missing.

Jenny Lussier has been a fifth and sixth grade teacher, but now happily spends her days among kids, books & technology in two elementary school libraries. In her spare time, she does enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, heading to the beach or gardening, but mostly spending time with her family or engrossed in a few great books. You can find Jenny on Twitter at @jluss or her website: