Be Careful What You Wish For…

imageHow long ago was it that I wrote about not taking the time to read?  Isn’t it something when the tables turn without warning and suddenly you get the very thing you hoped for, but not quite in the way you expected!  After spending two happy days hiking in the woods and playing with my family, life took a funny turn (or my back did) and I ended up completely incapacitated with back spasms.  I’ve never had such a thing happen before!  I couldn’t move or even reach for anything without clenching pain—the kind that takes your breath away.  I found myself confined to my sofa with a heating pad and an ice pack, with the four walls closing in. Through the haze of pain it occurred to me that about the only thing I WAS able to do was to hold a book.  (It was about then that I realized how a nice big stack from the library would be just the thing…if I hadn’t forbidden myself from going in for more!)  So I managed to get my hands on a book that was within my reach and took the time to transport myself out of my current situation.  The book I chose was “Homesick:  My Own Story” by Jean Fritz.  I’ve always loved this book because it was written when the author was a young girl living in China, and her life there was fascinating and very different from my own experiences.  I remember loving this book when I was young, even though I had very little background knowledge or understanding of life in China during the 1920’s.  However, reading books like this one made me search out other stories about children growing up in far-off countries and other cultures.  Earlier this summer I attended a conference in which the speaker talked about how children acquire background knowledge and evaluate new ideas that they hear or read about against what they already know to be true.  It made me realize how important it is to put books about different times and different places into the hands of readers so that they can build their own understanding and curiosity about the stories of the world.  Too many times I suggest stories to students that I imagine they can relate to based on their age or their life experiences.  I need to reach further and pique their interest in stories that are unfamiliar but fascinating in their different-ness.  This is the part of their reading life that might not be developed if they never try a book like Jean’s story of growing up in Hankow, China.

As I was engrossed in the story, I came across one of my very favorite parts.  Jean and her family were caught in the middle of escalating tension between the Chinese and the foreigners and they were suddenly in danger of an attack.  Just when the angry crowd started to close in, Jean thought “I need a writer!”  She couldn’t imagine a way out of the danger herself—but she knew a writer could find a way to solve it and rescue them.  As it turned out, the family WAS rescued in a most unexpected way and Jean was satisfied that not even the best writer in the world could have managed it better.  So as I am sitting on my heating pad, clutching my pillow and wishing for the back spasms to stop, I am also looking for a good rescue.  I need a writer to write a good ending to THIS story!  I hope it involves a dash of good magic and a sudden end to my convincing impression of the old hag with a poisoned apple from Snow White.  Until that writer shows up, I will just keep a few more books  within arms’ reach and keep reading…

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3 comments

  1. Barb Ashton · July 26, 2015

    Feel better soon, Kathy. Until then, read on.

    Like

  2. Peg Frushour · July 27, 2015

    I’m sorry I didn’t get over to your pew this morning. I missed my hug! Here’s one from Waterloo! ( ) – keep up the good writing!

    Like

    • kathyschuitema · July 27, 2015

      Thank you, Peg! I wasn’t moving too quickly this morning myself! But it made me smile to see you guys over there. I’ll look for my hug the next time–thanks for telling me you like my blog! 🙂

      Like

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