Cover of On the Night You Were Born
I’m jealous of my 10-year-old daughter. I take her to the library and book store and she knows exactly what she wants to read. She goes straight to the paperback section and picks out the Dear Dumb Diary series, goes home and reads a book in one afternoon.
I remember when I did the same thing. I’d load up on books by Beverly Cleary, a pile so high I couldn’t see where I walked, and camp out in my room and read after a day of swimming in the summer, pleasantly tired of watching reruns of Happy Days.
This makes me long for days of picture books and junior novels. I read to my almost 6-year-old joyfully because turning the pages of a picture book is like walking through an art gallery.
One such book I love is Nancy Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born. It starts out at night time with a baby looking at a smiling moon. My daughter says, “That’s Baby April,” and we imitate the drawn animals saying her name: squeaks for ladybugs, ribbits for frogs, and growls for polar bears.
The days of reading to my girls will not last forever, so I need rediscover my joy. I think I found it. While perusing the children’s library section, I found some great historical accounts of America for each decade. What intrigues me the most was the Roaring Twenties - the period of prosperity after World War 1 and before the Great Depression. Women bared their ankles and knees in flapper dresses and bobbed their hair, and the author that captured it all was F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I searched for his most notable novel, The Great Gatsby, because I studied it as a junior in high school. I say study and not read because back then I could care less. Great literature is wasted on youth.
That’s why I applaud the Dear America series because there’s nothing like reading fictional diaries of young people in historical eras. They make you want to read more of the classics. I read the Dear America series of World War 2 which made me read The Diary of Anne Frank which launched my interest in reading more about World War 2.
Back in high school, I stared at the back of my classmates' heads during history class. I still long for the day where I can read a book in a day. It will happen soon enough.