Gifts of Books

Children.  So innocent all around.  Their bodies, minds and spirits flow as rivers to a sea of undiscovered imaginations.

Perhaps it was the snow that triggered this memory from long ago, or maybe it was rushing to grab a cup of coffee before I was out the door.  Years ago, when my youngest son attended kindergarten I still owned a small publishing company producing children’s books targeted to schools.

Once a week, in the afternoon, I stopped by his classroom to help a chosen student write and ‘publish’ a book.  For me, it was a magical time, minutes turning into an hour to strike a rare friendship with a five or six-year-old never met or known before.  Before long, I would get a peek at their inner soul.  Often giggles were shared.  Sometimes tears were shed.

The topic of the book was completely left to the budding author.  Once out of the safety of the classroom, an angelic girl dressed in the latest fashion might begin to fidget in her chair.  Or a boy, warm in a checkered flannel shirt stuffed into jeans would tap his pencil over and over and over again. “What should we write about today?”

We talked about things in ‘their’ world.  Life at home, school and fun stuff like sports, hobbies, collections, pets and family vacations.  Some kids didn’t have the traditional family.  Their parents were divorced or they lived with blended families or sometimes with a grandparent.  I explained how all of these were families too.  I never pried, only listened to what they were willing to tell me.  Most often, what they told me turned into words which made their own unique story.  For the first time, they became real ‘writers’ on those days.

There is one little boy who wrote and illustrated a story I shall never forget.  As soon we pulled our wooden chairs out from the Formica table that winter afternoon he knew what he wanted to write about.  I listened quietly as he began to tell me the story of his loving grandpa.  I got out the pencils and colored markers, the paper and tubes of glitter while he recited his tale.  With each turn of the page, more words were written.  It was not my job to correct spelling or grammar.  This would soon be a book authored by a kindergartner, in all its finished glory.

The little guy with blonde shaggy hair who was dressed in overalls wrote of how his grandpa took him fishing near a fast blue river.  Together, they liked to ride ponies and play cowboys in the woods.  His grandpa liked to lick vanilla ice cream cones on a hill behind his house.  He smoked cigars but never in the house.  His grandpa made funny jokes, tickled him until he giggled and wore scruffy whiskers on his face.  He was his best friend in the whole United States.

“Oh, how lucky you are to have such a fun grandpa.  You must love him very much.”  I remember saying, or something to that effect.  I checked my watch.  Our hour was nearing its end.  Time to staple the cover, add the T.I.T.L.E. together with the proud Author’s name.

“Wait, I’ve got one more picture to draw,” my new friend plaintively said.

I sat watching this endearing little guy who had tremendous love for his grandfather.  Not only did I hear and see it in his words, I felt it from his soul.  He picked up crayons and markers to draw lines in different colors, connecting one to the other.  A long box began to take shape.  Next, a floor lamp appeared at one end of the box.  “What would this be,” I wondered?   The little boy was very quiet…pensive even.

Within seconds I could see.  On a lined paper page, a portrait of a beloved grandpa took shape, laying in a box.  It was a child-like depiction of a casket.  “Grandpa,” I learned through tears and tissues, had recently passed away.  He was very much on this precious child’s mind.  This is what he wanted to write about.  This was going to be his first published book.

All of the children’s stories that year were special.  They were theirs alone, ‘published’ into books right before their eyes.  I still remember each time the last staple clamped down on colorful construction paper covers.  Light shined through on faces of proud innocence as if to say, “I did this!  I wrote and published a book!”

The tangible book is gift to be treasured forever.  Bound pages of paper to hold in the two of your hands.  Run your tips of fingers over printed words while dreaming of the unimaginable.  Oh, what a gift…..


48 thoughts on “Gifts of Books

  1. oh, if only in our adult hearts and imaginations we were to put it all together as simply and innocently as these wee ones… what then would OUR books be like?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, Kim!! Tears running down my face! Your ability to tell us a story and make us feel that we are there…and it is OUR story…is a gift!! Thank you for your beautiful heart and for sharing this beautiful memory! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Laure, thank you for this lovely compliment. I hadn’t thought of this little boy or that year with the children for a very long time. I should have titled my post, “Gifst to Me.” I am blessed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You told this perfectly, Kim! I loved what you did for these children and how you listened and heard their stories. I got teary eyed about the boy’s drawing a coffin with his precious best friend in the whole world lying inside it. Wow!


    • Robin, thank you for your compliment. His ending was quite a surprise to me. Although his story ended in death and sadness, good memories together with love for his ‘grandpa’far outweighed the former.


    • Aquuileana, thank you so for reading and writing such a nice comment to me. To be honest, a book was my first very best friend. I can go off anywhere with them, become anyone I want to be, and live true magic in the world.


  4. The sadness in that little boys heart shines through his last drawing, to hold such precious memories at that young age is incomprehensible.
    That post bought a lump to my throat.


    • Thank you so much, Kellie, for your comment and your special understanding. I loved reading the words about your own prized book. When my older son was in first grade his teacher handed me a little book he wrote about the weather. “This is remarkable,” she said! I still have it today, wrapped in tissue with all of his school boy treasures. He grew up to be a forecaster for the National Weather Service. :). Yes, books are indeed magic gifts to all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    For children the feel of a book in their hands and the ability to read its pages is the most wondrous thing.. Whilst they may now be able to finger swipe with almost instinctive accuracy from a very early age, I hope that they also get to hold bright, colourful books in their hands too.. As Kim Gosselin advocates as well..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautiful words from you, Sally. Technology is terrific, but will never replace my love of the smell of ink or the surprised splash of color on paper pages of a new story book. Bless you for Reblogging a long ago memory. /)


  6. My eyes are moist as I read through the mist of them your own wonderful ‘Gift’ Kim.. What a beautiful memory you have shared of your time giving these children the chance to write and publish their thoughts.. And such a precious gift for this young boy.. Whom I am sure you helped in his finding comfort in his newly bereaved state of mind..

    What special memories he shared with you.. so so Precious..
    Thank you Kim..
    Love and Hugs Sue xx


  7. How sweet is this story! In reading this I saw my little self as my aunt mentored and encouraged me over the years. This was beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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