Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Comfort books

The other day my soon-to-be-9th grader asked me what my "comfort book" was (hers is Roald Dahl's The Witches). I love this idea of a book that is reassuring and nurturing in its familiarity and association with carefree, happy times. Much like the power of comfort foods, comfort reads can soothe us in times of stress.

I often see students picking up books that are "too easy," but which are meaningful to them for this very reason. They line up to check out these beloved books and share with me how very special they are, perhaps through association with a fond relative or favorite teacher or because something about the plot or characters speaks deeply to them (even if they cannot articulate exactly how or why).

Sometimes this is concerning to parents - that a child is reading below his or her current level - but reading can be a powerful emotional experience, and nostalgic forays into favorite titles from earlier in life build a positive association with books and are nothing to fear.

So, what is my comfort book? No question, it is C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The first time Lucy steps through the wardrobe into Narnia is seared into my brain as the single most magical moment in all of literature. Hmm, I might just have to pick it up again sometime very soon!

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