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Love is Lovelier the Second Time Around (or even the twentieth…)

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Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

via Daily Prompt: Second Time Around.

Love is lovelier the second time around
Just as wonderful with both feet on the ground (Second Time Around   – as sung by Frank Sinatra)

As I have mentioned many many times, I am wrapping up my 15th year of teaching.  I am a big proponent of the teacher-read-aloud – even in the upper grades.  I read to my class every day and use it as a jumping off point for so many lessons and discussions.  It is the most special time of our day.  I have students who are now in their mid-twenties who tell me they can still remember certain books I read to them and how much they loved it.  For some of my students, it has been what has made them fall in love with books.

I put a lot of thought in what I chose to read to them.  And I try not to just read the same book year after year.  After all, while THEY may not have read it, I would get bored reading the same things all the time.  With one exception…

I have read Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls to nearly every single class in the past 15 years.  It has become a link to each class.  Siblings from a previous class will ask the brother or sister in my current class if I have read it yet.  It sticks with them.

For those of you who are not aware of the book (and if you haven’t ever read it – read it…it is great), Where the Red Fern Grows, is the story of Billy Coleman, a young boy growing up in the backwoods of the Ozarks somewhere around the Depression.  Billy’s family isn’t just poor, they are dirt poor, living off the land.  However, Billy decides he wants some dogs.  And not just any ol’ dogs.  He wants hunting dogs.  Specifically Redbone Coonhounds.  His parents want to help him, but they can’t.  So, Billy works for over two years to gather enough money to buy his beloved dogs.  And that’s where the story really begins.

“It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.”  
―     Wilson Rawls,     Where the Red Fern Grows

It is a story of perseverance and determination.  It is about setting a goal and not letting anything get in your way.  But mostly it is a story about undying love and devotion.

I have read the book somewhere around 20 times – independently as a child, to my classes and to my own children.  It still makes me laugh and it still makes me cry.  Real tears, not just brimming in my eyes.  Every single time.

I will probably be looping with my class next year.  Meaning, I’ll be going with them from 4th to 5th, with most of the class intact.  And since I read it to my students this year, I won’t be reading it to them again.  And I am a little sad about that.  I look forward to reading it every year.  So, looks like I’ll have to read it to my own children.  I read it to Monkey #1 when he was 8.  The Middle Monkey heard it from his 4th grade teacher (a fellow teacher who also reads it to her class every year).  The Girl Child has yet to hear it.  Perhaps it is time.

“It’s a shame that people all over the world can’t have that kind of love in their hearts,” he said.  “There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed or selfishness.  It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have – a wonderful world.”  
―     Wilson Rawls,     Where the Red Fern Grows

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