Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Wonderful Comfort of a "Blanket Book"

This summer I was sitting with a fifth grade student around a campfire.  We were, of course, discussing books.  She told me that Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo was her "blanket book"....the book that she reads and rereads...when she needs some comfort or when she just needs to feel good.  She doesn't own her own copy (which I'm going to take care of) but said that she has checked it out from the library dozens of times!  It just makes her feel good to "have it around".

That got me thinking about my own blanket book...I honestly can't say that I had one as a child.  I do, however, feel that as an adult, my choice would be The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (also by Kate DiCamillo).  It's a book that I grow to love more and more with each rereading...a book that always warms my heart and restores my hope!

I discussed the idea of blanket books with my students, colleagues, and Nerdy Book Club friends. Here is what they had to say...

Peyton (fourth grader)
My blanket book is Danny and the Dinosaur.  I would not go to sleep until my dad read it to me.  He probably read it over 100 times.  I still have it!!


Eva (third grader)
My blanket book is I Love My New Toy.  My Grandma and Papa always read it to me.  It makes me feel good.


Viola (fourth grader)
My blanket books are Zen Ties and Zen Shorts.  They are the books that I always go back to when I'm not reading another book.


Logan (fourth grader)
My blanket books are I Love My Mommy and I Love My Daddy.  My parents read one of those books to me every night when I was little.


Lydia (fourth grader)
My blanket books is Ferdinand.  When I was little, my grandma always read it to me.  It makes me happy!


John Schu (@mrschureads) teacher-librarian:
My blanket book is Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan. At least once per week I take it off the shelf in my home office, turn to a random page, and read. So much beauty and hope in that book! 


Niki Barnes (@daydreamreader) second grade teacher:
I would say that my blanket book is Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume! I adored my fourth grade teacher- Miss Luke  and she read us Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing! I thought Fudge was hilarious! The book love went full circle when I was able to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my fourth grade students. That book and series will always have a special place in my heart.


Dr. Michael Paskewicz (@DrPaskewicz) superintendent, Northview Public Schools
The first "can't put it down blanket book" was Old Yeller by Fred Gibson.  This happened when I was in 5th grade.  The second is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This one happened to me in 10th grade.  I still read it every other year and this is the year for the re-read.


Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) eighth grade English teacher:
As a child my blanket book was Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. One of my family members who had a big impact on my reading as a child was my Uncle Tom. Though we lived in different states, whenever I was around him, I remember he would always sit me on his lap and read to me. Due to his influence, Charlotte's Web is the first chapter book I remember ever reading on my own, and so whenever my family would visit my aunt and uncle, I would always wander over to their bookshelves, plop down on the floor, and start reading Charlotte's Web. I don't think I ever even owned my own copy. I just knew it would always be waiting for me at Uncle Tom and Aunt Kathy's house. 

My blanket book as an adult is The View from Saturday by E.L. Kongisburg. The reason why this book has comforted me in my adulthood is because despite the fact that I loved to read as I child, the demands of life and schoolwork led me away from reading for pleasure in my high school and college years. One day when my husband and I were living in Germany, I impulsively picked the book up and put it in my suitcase right before we left on a weekend trip to Prague. I ended up reading the entire thing while stuck in a train station in some nondescript town in Germany due to a train delay. And believe me, it's hard for a town in Germany to be nondescript since everything there is so beautiful. But we happened to be stuck in the most boring, do-nothing town in all of Germany. I don't even remember its name. What I do remember from that town is reading The View from Saturday because it was the first time I felt joy from a book in many years. It is, quite simply, the book that brought me back to reading as an adult. 


Matthew Winner (@MatthewWinner) library media specialist:
My blanket book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Each time I pick it up I am suddenly transported to the twin's vegetable garden in the dark of night alongside Cal, Meg, and Charles Wallace. There have been many moments in my life when I have wished to travel through time and space to right mistakes, take an adventure into the unknown, and get a second chance to do the right thing. A Wrinkle in Time has been that companion for me on those days I feel unsure, stuck, or alone. It is an adventure I feel I play a part in each time I read it and it is a journey I'd happily take over and over again.


Carrie Davies (@readwithdavies) teacher-librarian
My "blanket book" is Charlotte's Web.  I've read it over a dozen times...maybe even closer to 2 dozen times!  It has meant many different things to me at different times in my life.  

I remember reading it as a 3rd grader, and loving the story about a pig.  
I remember reading it for my children's lit class in college, and loving the message about friendship.  
I remember reading it when I was student teaching, and connecting with Wilbur's feelings of being new to Zuckerman's farm and the animals there, and how he adjusted to that "newness."  
I remember reading it countless times to my own students as a 4th grade teacher, and being amazed by E.B. White's vivid descriptions, word choice and author's craft.  
I remember, most recently, reading it aloud to my own children at home, and being touched by Charlotte's unconditional love in an entirely different way, as I read it as a mother to her children.

Charlotte's Web has provided comfort, life lessons, smiles, and tears over nearly 30 years for me.


Cynthia Alaniz (@utalaniz) teacher-librarian
I have several "blanket books", but this is my most recent one:
Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin, 2014) by Jacqueline Woodson

Since reading this book in April 2014, I have kept a copy nearby always (one even goes with me on trips). I marked favorite lines, put sticky notes everywhere, and read it whenever I needed - or wanted to. I have 2 ARCs of this book: one that I shared, and one that holds my notes. I also have a final copy of the book that was a gift, and it is on a very special shelf in my home. 

The gorgeous text gives me comfort, connects me to the beauty of the written word, and helps me remember how important reading and writing can be to someone. 


Dr. Julia Reynolds (@jmrliteracy) director of curriculum and school improvement, Northview Public Schools
My "blanket book" is Little Boy by Alison McGee and Peter H. Reynolds.

I read it from time to time - especially when things are busy - to remind me that family comes first. That balance is difficult to maintain at times. Yet, reading the book bring things back into focus and helps me calm down. After reading, I always give my son a hug and/or write him a small note.


Ben Gilpin (@benjamingilpin) elementrary principal
I have more than one blanket book.  I love Hatchet and I try to introduce that to 4th graders each year.  I also enjoy the Magic Tree House collection.  I push into 2nd grades and try to really get them excited for these fun adventures.  On a personal note...the author that sucks me in every time is Clive Cussler!



We have all been touched in some way by our own "blanket book".  Please feel free to leave your blanket book in the comments below, or continue the discussion using #blanketbook.