It’s the books.
For me, summer brings a lightened workload (the students are on vacation!) and long, warm days that I use to pare down my lengthy “to-read” list.
On the list is To Kill A Mockingbird, my favorite novel. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it, yet it never fails to move me. In this novel, Harper Lee wrote one of the most rewarding sentences in literature and it’s only four words: “Hey, Boo,” I said. I try to read this novel every summer.
Sewell was a cripple from a young age, and horses were her helpers and her friends. The way she wrote the story (narrated in the first person by a horse) created quite a stir in her day. Sewell uses Beauty to teach the reader about the proper treatment of horses and, at the same time, to teach how people should treat one another — with kindness and respect.
The copy that I own was printed in 1894 — almost 120 years ago. The cover is lovely, but its best feature is the note of endearment written on an inside page:
When I think about Ralph, as I hold this book in my hand, I imagine him to be a child no older than ten. Was April 18 his birth date and the book a present from “Papa and Mama”?
Sewell did not write her book for children, but parents took notice of the richness and virtues that flow out of this story, and Black Beauty became known as a children’s book.
When I was a child — and I don’t know how she could afford them — my mother would purchase children’s books for me and my siblings through a book club.
How blessed we were to have a mother who valued reading.
The club had a series that we couldn’t wait to receive. It was “two books in one”: We would read the first, and then flip it over and upside down to read the second. Paired up were The Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe; The Jungle Book and Dr. Doolittle. It was through this book series that I first read Black Beauty.
And now that I’ve found it, I plan to read the story again when Summer comes — outside in the warm sun, with a cool drink in my hand, under the shade of a tree or a backyard umbrella, ready to listen as Beauty tells his tale.
Along with a slew of other novels, I also plan to dig into nonfiction: David McCullough’s The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge is on my list, and so is Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orleans.
Summertime … and the reading is easy. What books do you plan to read this summer?