I’m embracing the irony this week. In response to my post about my new blog, my brother declared “to add interest, it should be mostly about your brother”. I chuckled, we all chuckled, yet here I am, writing about my brother.
I honestly believe that children become lovers of reading after modeling what they see around them. If reading is important to the adults in their lives then it becomes important in their own lives. It’s one thing to read to your children, encourage them to read, buy them books and search out appropriate material for them, but the most powerful encouragement is modeling. Readers produce readers.
My parents read constantly. My great aunt and uncle (the grandparent figures in my life) read constantly. My cousins read constantly. My aunt would take me to the library to get books and she would go home with as many books as I did. She’s 90 years old now and up until they closed her local library, she was going every week.
“Funny” my four-year-old self mused, “this must be how one spends one’s days” (Yes, I know. Fancy talk for a four-year-old but go with it). Everyone around me was reading all the time. I learned that reading happened every day and for good stretches of time but up until this past week I didn’t realize my brother learned this behaviour also. Now I knew about the Noddy books and I knew he was devouring books in his late teens but I had no idea that the in-between years were also book years. My brother, the sports nut and social butterfly of the family was also a child reader. For many kids a conflict of interest but for my brother it was just something we did, just like it was something my parents did, and my aunt and uncle did, and my cousins did.
My first post prompted some wonderful responses as people commented with their own childhood book loves. I’ve added many to my list and am looking forward to exploring some of them soon. My brother piped in with his particular “awesome” book in the form of “it had these great black and white illustrations every few pages”. It seems he used to copy them and that’s how he learned to draw well. I was intrigued and asked for details. I got “set in Utah; 1800’s; three brothers told from the POV of the middle brother”. I headed over to Google Books and voila. Up popped The Great Brain.
Hmmm… The Great Brain. I had never heard of this series. Where was I? Was it after my time? Maybe it was considered a “boy book” in the days when those distinctions mattered. A little research and I found many pages devoted to the series and shrines to the artwork.
According to what I’ve read, the 7-book series is set in Utah in the early 1900’s and is loosely based on the childhood of author, John Fitzgerald. The Great Brain is John’s older brother, Tom, who appears to model himself after Twain’s Tom Sawyer being both mischievous and ingenious. The search to get my hands on copies of the books however was less than fruitful. Some of the books are out of print and none of my local bookstores stock it. So, Ebay to the rescue and I have the first book on order. I’m looking forward to reading the books that captured the imagination of my sports nut brother.
Stay tuned for further thoughts after the read.