Written by Frances Peacock
A book can make a wonderful gift for a child.
When a mother takes her daughter into a bookstore to help her choose her first chapter book, it can be a great occasion for both of them.
Unless you’re talking about a mother and daughter that I knew. For them, the occasion didn’t go so well.
The girl was nine years old, and she detested the book her mother chose. The cover was hideous, she hated the pictures, and the whole thing had too many pages. She swore that as long as she lived, she would never open that awful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The mother bought the book anyway.
Then, as they continued their errands through the Oak Brook Shopping Center, they found a bench to sit on. The mother set down her packages, took off her tan coat, and told the daughter to take a look at that book while they rested a while. The girl gave it a try.
To the girl’s surprise, the first page was pretty good. The second page made her laugh. Before she knew it, she was hooked. She read two chapters while she sat on that bench. In three days, she had finished the whole book.
By the time she turned ten, she had read the book again – four more times.
In high school and college, the girl would move on to other novels, but nothing would ever grab her the way that Charlie book did.
Now the girl is a teacher. She’s reading the book to her third graders. Every day, they listen to two chapters. They fall in love with the story. The girl buys 26 copies of the book, one for each student. They act out a play about the chocolate factory. They dress in costumes and paint a giant mural of their favorite scenes.
One evening after school, the girl calls her mother. She tells her about all the fun she’s having with her class. She says she was the one who started it all, back at Oak Brook, when she bought her that book.
But the mother doesn’t remember that book. Or the Oak Brook Shopping Center, or even that her daughter is a teacher.
The daughter listens on the phone as her mother tries to remember. Many things are hard to recall now, the daughter is finding out. Even the most important things – even the lovely, favorite book that she bought for her youngest daughter.
It’s really alright, though, the daughter decides, because the mother has still done something wonderful, hasn’t she?
She once bought her daughter a book she adored, and she never once told the girl to, for Heaven’s sake read something else instead of that same old Charlie book over and over again.
She gave her child a wonderful gift, and she never looked back.
The girl, thank goodness, kept going with that gift, so it hasn’t been forgotten yet at all.
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.