My grandson, enjoying his first experience of being in preschool, mentioned with excitement that he was going to have a book fair at his school. It seems impossible, but it took me right back to the enthusiastic joy I felt when I was just a little older than he is now, pouring over the pamphlet of some of the offerings I could purchase and hold as my own forever.
“The Middle Sister” is perhaps the first thing I ever bought at a school book fair, and it sits in a special place by my writing desk.
Even if I didn’t still have it, I could have recalled the cover quite clearly, emblazoned on my book lover’s memory. A blonde girl, hair braided and held by an autumn-orange bow, is captured by an artist’s brush, the little girl’s blue eyes sparkling.
Copyright 1963, the book is about a girl growing up on a farm and trying hard to be as brave as her older siblings cost 50 cents in 1967 when I likely begged my mother to let me buy it. Her one rule was that we could purchase a book, but not anything like posters or other fluff the Scholastic Book Services dangled in front of impressionable children.
I remember carrying a few coins to each book fair with great pride, trying hard to make a good choice. It touched my heart when my grandson, not yet 5 years old, spent part of his allotted money at his very first book fair on a colorful book for his little sister.
“She doesn’t get to go to preschool yet, so I wanted to get something for her,” he said with a devotion that doesn’t always appear on typical days when the two are battling over toy tractors, trucks and Matchbox cars. What a joy to see that big-hearted big brother make such a grand appearance.
This stage of my life is pure joy, with my three grandchildren still so young that sitting on my lap and reading books is a delightful treat that flows both ways. Grandparenting offers the wise perspective of knowing to hold on tight to the little joys, those sweet one-on-one moments before the world becomes so much bigger, faster, more demanding.
With a soft, fuzzy blanket covering us, the fireplace adding to the warmth of the day, each book I am asked to read, “again!” is delightful as anything can possibly ever be.
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