If You Were Ever A Child…..

The homeschool curriculum I use with my littles is literature based. There is a list of books for “required” reading and then another list of “suggested” books if you have the time and your child loves to read.

Which mine does.

It was touch and go her kindergarten and first grade year. I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. I gave her a copy of “Old Hat, New Hat” in November of her first grade year. Hoping she could read it. Eventually. Less than five months later she was reading Magic Tree House books. Something finally clicked. Now her favorites are the Rainbow Magic Fairy books by Daisy Meadows. I’m thinking that’s a pen name–you?

As we are looking at wrapping up the school year, I went through the suggested book list and put in many hold requests at the library. (Can I just say I LOVE Interlibrary loans?) We are running a bit behind this year because of the January/February HospitalStay, but reading will be a wonderful pastime for our summer break as well.

Yesterday the first of our hold requests came through, and we ran by and picked it up. Last night my second grader, who loves to read all the time, asked if I would come and read her a story. This was a special treat for me, as she enjoys being an independent reader. I picked up our library book, and we began reading.

Roxaboxen by Alice McLernan, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Oh my, bless it. Precious.

If you have a child or know a child or were ever a child, you should find this book. And read it. Right now. It’s a story of children playing, imaginations taking flight, and the memories we carry with us into adulthood.

Yes, I cried. It was that good.

It reminded me of our little brick house on Old Boy Scout Road. The little two bedroom house where, when she brought home my baby brother, child number four, Mama told Daddy, “I don’t think another thing will fit in here.” And so we moved to Blackberry Flats. But before I was nine, we lived in that little brick house. There was a spot under the pines between our house and the one next door that was perfect for sweeping out and using the pine needles to mark off rooms and houses. At one point, two young girls lived next door and we would play out there for hours, sweeping and building and playing.

It also reminded me of playing at my Granny’s, where we built toadhouses along the banks between her yard and the peach orchard right next to her. We created whole villages and were allowed to bring cars out (“be particular”) to drive in and out of them. My cousins and I used to play “Cowboys and Indians” at their old house on Rabbit Road, where the deep slope of the yard made for some great chases and use of imagination.

When we moved to Blackberry Flats, we had a horse, Betsy. Each fall Daddy would go and get a load of hay to put back for the winter. I can remember the smell of the sweet hay and the feeling of hefting up a bale and handing it down off the truck to him. He stacked it up in the side area of his building. (I guess it was a workshop, but all we ever called it was “Daddy’s building.”) I remember crawling up to the top of the stack of hay in that little shed and reading. Mama let us have the boxes their checkbooks came in, and we created a post office, each of us having our own “mailbox.” We made up our “names,” and we spent lots of time writing letters and “mailing” them.

Creating. Dreaming. Playing. Imagining. Only it all seemed so real.

Just like in Roxaboxen.

I’ve driven by the old home place on Old Boy Scout Road since I was grown. It seems so much smaller now, like the woods crept up towards the house. The old sand pile is still visible at my Granny’s old house. And while there is no hay, the shed at Daddy’s is still standing, stock full of memories that bring a smile and a tear.

I am thankful for those happy memories of a carefree childhood and for my own “Roxaboxen” places. I give thanks for my girls who love to read and dream, and hang onto the hope that my little guy will also find a love of reading one day. As I write this I look out my front window where my two little ones are playing with their friends, and soon they will come in all breathless, eager to tell me about their latest “adventures.” I love that they too have their own “Roxaboxen” right here on our little cul-de-sac. And I give thanks for those who have gone before, sharing stories and reading books with us, helping us to dream and play and imagine. Right now, I can’t think of a better gift that’s ever been given.

18 thoughts on “If You Were Ever A Child…..

  1. Hi, Tara, Another great commentary! I have a kindergartener who will be a first grader in September. I think I will have to share Roxaboxen with her. She loves to read and loves to be read to. Each year, I spend three weeks in the winter and three weeks in the summer with my grandchildren in Upstate New York. I sleep with 6-year-old Zoe, and story time has become a regular bedtime activity with us. Two years ago, she had “Where the Wild Things Are” memorized!

    Thank you so much for this one. I loved it! Chrissy Z

    • I hope sharing this sweet book will create new and happy memories for you and Zoe together. Thank you for sharing your story, and thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. You can eat all the ice cream you want in Roxaboxen. Just sayin’. And then there’s the cemetery with the lizard’s grave the only one there, with cactus blooms decorating the grave when they are blooming. I’m so ordering my own copy of this one. ❤

  3. I want to get this book for my grandchildren’s library I am building in our home. Through the last few years, as Jim’s kids visit with their broods (they live closer than mine do), I have collected an odd assortment of toys and books, as I find them on sale. I worked and shopped at the last Old Book Sale at the fairgrounds and found many treasures…old, old children’s books and hard cover piano books for one grandchild in particular…then sent a love bundle to each home. I even found a Boxcar Children collection on cassette that my grandkids in Seattle enjoy now on road trips.

    When I read of your childhood memories of play, I recall my own, but also what I see in my grandchildren who are not given every new toy or electronic game or even are allowed to watch tv unless its something special on discovery or a g movie…they would rather be outside or creating at the kitchen table while mom cooks. I love that they are growing up like I did! Thanks for the memories!

    • Thank you for reading and for sharing your memories with me. I loved the Box Car Children! Mama used to read those when she visited the classrooms at Byron Elementary as a Rolling Reader. Precious. I love the Old Book Sales too. Glad you found some good ones. And I think you and they will love Roxaboxen. Let me know what you think.

  4. I use this book in almost every EDU class at the undergraduate level that I teach…it is one of my favorites! So glad you discovered it!

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