– A.A. Milne
In second grade, toward this time of the school year, my mom came to class for the day. We were completing our “My Book About Me,” a project I remember my mom organizing.
We were each given a Duo-Tang folder with copied pages for us to fill in blanks about our interests and favorites.
We worked to write down the superlatives of our 7-year-old lives with pencils and crayons. I vividly remember a few of the pages.
One had a box in the middle of it above the words, “This is a picture of me.” I had just started drawing necks, so I’m fairly certain I looked to be part giraffe.
I also remember writing The Dick Van Dike Show as my favorite television show. It was tough call. My other favorite show was All In the Family. Not yet old enough to understand the nuance of All In The Family, I went with Dick Van Dike because his show made me laugh the most.
The last piece I remember from my book about me was what I listed as my favorite book, The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I did and still do love that book.
I also remember my classmates mocking me for my choice.
They alerted me to its standing as a baby book and I’m sure called it stupid.
We were 7, after all. I’m not sure what was cool at the time, but it certainly had nothing to do with A.A. Milne.
It wasn’t until a few years ago while home at my mom’s that I picked up our old copy of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and started reading.
I was immersed.
“Mom,” I would call from the couch, “This is smart and funny!”
“I know,” she would call back.
“Mom,” I called a few moments later, “This isn’t just a book for kids. Adults should read this book too.”
And, of course she did. She knew then as she had known when I told her about the kids in my second-grade class that Pooh was a beautifully intricate narrative full of semantic and linguistic acrobatics that could not help but invite its readers’ imaginations out to play.
When I talk about wanting my students to fall in love with reading, its the world I found in Milne’s creations that I’m hoping they will find in whatever texts capture their imaginations.
I want them to be intoxicated with story. When Pooh stops short in the story and starts conversing with the narrator, I cannot help by giggle. He’s breaking the rules and inviting his readers along.
I get that in a way I never get when reading Joyce or Faulkner. Both of them broke rules, but seemed to spite the reader, not to entice him.
Should Duo-Tang folders show up in my classroom tomorrow, Dick Van Dike might have to step to the side, but Winnie the Pooh would still hold a place of honor.