Reading Matters - 1960-61

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
About the year I became a reader and the teacher who made a difference.

Submitted: May 18, 2008

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Submitted: May 18, 2008




I relished the easy-going serenity of Mrs. Mattson’s class. The other classrooms at Campton were along the main corridor of the school, either next to or across the hallway from each other.Mrs. Mattson’s fourth grade classroom, to which I had been assigned, was tucked midway between the library and the cafeteria.The space must have been designed for another purpose; our classroom was smaller than the rest, had no lockers for coats and boots, and no sink to clean up after messy art projects. Its location, on the other side of the building from the main hallway, infused that year with an aura of isolation, and helped create a nurturing haven.

The soft-spoken Mrs. M., with her warm smile, soon gained the reputation of being more lenient than the other fourth grade instructors.We had magical afternoons in that cozy classroom when Mrs. M. would ask us to push our desks into a semi-circle around her chair to hear her read aloud.

We listened on the installment plan, one or two chapters per session.Sometimes a book would take weeks, for our teacher often chose thick books whose intimidating page counts might keep us from checking them out from the school or public libraries. Often, not wanting to wait until another afternoon to hear more, we would beg her to continue reading and, because she was easygoing, she usually agreed.Those fourth grade story hours with Mrs. M. introduced me to genres that I might not have otherwise read. Her selections were an eclectic mixture of fiction and non-fiction. By the end of the year my favorite characters were Dr. Doolittle and Albert Einstein.

Each week our class marched the short distance around the corner from our room to the Campton library.The Landmark series of non-fiction books were great favorites with stories about Alexander Graham Bell, Davy Crockett, George Washington Carver, and King Tut.

Every month we’d receive a newsletter from the Scholastic Book Club to order slim, inexpensive paperbacks for our personal collection.Our purchases helped earn free, bonus books for our classroom.Mrs. M. instituted a contest.She gave each of us a sheet of paper with the picture of a block house that shehad drawn freehand and run through a ditto machine. After printing our names at the top we thumb-tacked the sheets onto our classroom’s bulletin board. After we read a book we would color in a rectangle, starting from the bottom of our house, and write down the book’s title in a column to the side of the paper. The first one to color in all the blocks of their houses won. A boy named Harold read a slew of books about car racing and cowboys that were long on adventure and short on pages. He beat everyone to the top of the chimney first.

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Books I checked out of the Campton School Library and read at home:
A series about the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron
A series with the main character Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
A series with the main character Mr. Pickerel
Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes
All of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books (except for Farmer Boy)
Landmark biographies about Alexander Graham Bell, Luther
Burbank and George Washington Carver
Books that I checked out from the library (at least once) but never managed to read:
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A book about a horse named Smokey
Fairy Tale Collections of various colors: green, red, yellow, etc.

© Copyright 2018 Leni Willson. All rights reserved.

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