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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Remembering books

October 5, 2010

I found a recent article in the The New York Times entitled "The Plot Escapes Me" was particularly intriguing. Its author, James Collins, laments the fact that he can't remember the specifics of the books he reads; however, he continues to associate with the books "an atmosphere and a stray image or two, like memories of trips I took as a child."

My guess is that he's not alone in this. I know I remember the ride of reading but sometimes no more than the book's title.

Are young readers like this? I'm not sure. Maybe when they get older they forget specifics, but when they're young and in the moment, young children seem to remember every detail.

Books that my son could recite as a young child, he doesn't seem to remember now. But what did he gain from them? Maybe he took what was needed at the moment they were read. I certainly remember these books quite fondly.

There were the Max board books by Rosemary Wells, particularly Max's First Word (Viking, o.p.). This brightly colored book delighted a months old child as well as his mother.

He seemed comforted and perpetually surprised by Martin Wadell's Owl Babies (Candlewick) as three sibling owls await their mother's homecoming.

He liked to share the wild rumpus with Max during endless readings of Where the Wild Things Are (HarperCollins)

These and other books were shared in our home time and time again. And like Mr. Collins, we all can recall the atmosphere created by these childhood trips — each shared with a young child.

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"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss