Friday, December 31, 2010
My Weekly Reader and Scholastic Books
Our Weekly Reader time was also a somewhat relaxing time in the classroom. The teachers usually allowed us to read the paper at our own pace, so the classroom was quiet and peaceful. Having been a teacher myself, I realize now that this was probably more for their benefit than ours, but nevertheless it was quite pleasant. I think this probably set the stage for my daily ritual now of reading two newspapers. Of course, to justify the expenditure of valuable class time, we were always assigned the task of completing the study questions on the last page.
I also remember that about every six weeks or so, Weekly Reader would send out a reading comprehension test that would be administered to the class. I never excelled at sports or music or much else, but I was flat good at those reading comprehension tests. But not quite good enough; my score was always second to that of my classmate Doug Cottrell. I was never able to beat Doug's score, no matter how hard I tried. But, like Avis, I tried harder.
Sweeter than any flower, I think, is the aroma that wafts up from a brand new Scholastic book that has never been opened before. I would take those books home and devour them, and even carried one with me back to school to read when I got a chance. The little books were extremely well-written, and included titles of new books as well as classics from long ago. Regrettably, I was normally not interested in the great works of fiction from the past, but eagerly purchased the latest from my favorite series like Encyclopedia Brown or Danny Dunn. The Encyclopedia Brown books featured the exploits of a young genius named Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown, who was an individual of considerable intellect who used his intelligence to
I also greatly enjoyed reading about Homer Price. The Homer Price books were actually written back in the 1940's by Robert McCloskey. I loved McCloskey's humor and felt a sense of companionship with Homer, who often found himself in rather awkward and challenging situations, like trying to figure out how to turn off a donut machine that had gone rogue.
As far as I know, Weekly Reader and Scholastic Books are still around today. As a matter of fact, when I was elementary principal at Waldron, the teachers wanted to switch from Weekly Reader to Scholastic News. Because of my strong commitment to Weekly Reader from my childhood, it took a lot of convincing to get me to go along with the idea!
I hope kids still read books for enjoyment. I know they have a lot of distractions today, and a lot of fun things to play with, but Mama's and Daddy's who foster a love of reading do a great service for their children. Everybody should get to experience the pleasure of reading a book that's so good you can't put it down.