Written by Frances Peacock
A book can make a wonderful gift for a child.
When you take your daughter into a bookstore to help her pick out her first chapter book, it can be a great occasion for both of you.
A lovely experience, indeed…
Unless the daughter doesn’t like the book you suggest. And she tells you the cover is the most hideous thing she’s ever seen. And the pictures inside are boring and have no color. And the whole thing has too many pages for a nine-year-old.
As your girl tosses the book onto the rack and exits the store in a huff, she’ll announce that she will never, as long as she lives, open up that awful “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
I hope you will buy her the book anyway.
Then, as you continue your errands through the Oak Brook Shopping Center – in 1974 – you’ll find a bench to sit on.
You’ll set down your packages, take off your tan coat, and tell your daughter to look at that book while you rest a while. And the girl will give it a try.
To her surprise, the first page will be pretty good. The second page will make her laugh. Before she knows it, she’ll be hooked. She’ll read two chapters while she sits on that bench. In three days, the book will be finished. Before her next birthday, she’ll read the book again – four times.
By the time you send her off to college, she’ll move on to other novels, but nothing will ever grab her the way that Charlie book did.
Years later, your girl will become a teacher. And what do you suppose she’ll read aloud to her third graders? Her students will fall in love with the story, just as she did. They’ll paint a mural of their favorite scenes. They’ll act it out as a play. She’ll buy 26 copies of the book, one for each of them, as a gift.
One evening after school, she’ll phone you. She’ll tell you about the fun she’s having with her class. She’ll say you were the one who started it all, back at Oak Brook, when you took her into the store and bought her that book.
But you won’t quite remember that book. Or the Oak Brook Shopping Center, or even that your daughter is a teacher.
Many things are hard to recall now, the daughter is finding out. Even the most important things – even the lovely, favorite book.
But you have still done something wonderful, haven’t you?
You once bought your daughter a book she adored. And you never once told the girl to, for Heaven’s sake, read something else instead of that same old Charlie book over and over again.
Your memory of the event is gone, but nothing is really lost here. You gave your child a wonderful gift. She nurtured it, and now she’s sharing it with others. The book was always for the future. You knew that when you bought it, didn’t you?
A wise woman knows that love goes forward. She plants a seedling and helps it grow. She knows she’ll never sit under the shade of that tree.
The shade is all for me, and my 26 fans of the chocolate factory.