As I read more and more children’s literature, I realize how important it is to share a love of reading with children. If we cannot get kids to want to read and enjoy reading, how will they ever learn the lessons that characters in great books teach us? As I finished reading Ida B. …and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and Possibly Save the World? by Katherine Hannigan, I realized how much Ida B. could help someone grappling with the sudden news that someone they love (or even theirself) has been diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness. Ida B. Applewood tries to handle the life-changing news of her mother’s diagnosis with cancer alone, but, eventually, she realizes that shutting out the rest of the world was only harming herself, not helping her. None of us are expected to get through life without leaning on the love, understanding, and wisdom of those around us. That made me think about my own life.
As I was going through the pile of “junk” mail that had accrued over the past week, I found a letter from a therapist I was seeing to help me navigate my own chronic illness. I sought her assistance after a friend who has also struggled with chronic illness suggested I do so. I must admit, at first I was very anxious about opening up to someone I didn’t know. It didn’t take me long to realize, however, that it was nice to have an empathetic and understanding ear to listen as I asked some tough questions that had no easy answers. During my time with her, I learned how to find the answers I needed through reading, reflection, meditation, and exercise. She did not give me the answers, but instead, she helped me find the answers. In the final line of the letter she recently sent, she wrote, “I hope you continue to find solutions to your concerns and wish you all the best.”
That is exactly what we can do for each other and what characters in books can do for us and the children we teach – help find solutions to our concerns so we can get on with the “best” that life has to offer.