Thanksgiving is among my favorite holidays. That's partly because of a deep-seated family tradition of dozens of us eating way too much at my Aunt Shirley's, but it's also because of the spirit of the holiday. Being alive is pretty amazing, and so is being healthy and having plenty to eat and a place to live and supportive family and friends, and I'm in favor of noticing that and celebrating it. A few years and an eternity ago, I spent November Thanksblogging about blessings specifically related to children's books, and I find I have enough new ones, and new perspectives on old ones, that it's worth revisiting.
I'm thankful for new endeavors. A heck of a lot has happened in the past four months, and I find myself scrambling to learn all there is to know about working on a magazine. In between checking the handbook and getting used to a Mac, I'm working with in-depth reviews and articles for a publication that's been "blow[ing] the horn for fine books for boys and girls" for ninety years. In terms of good children's lit discussion, it's a horn of plenty. (I'm probably going to get made fun of for that tomorrow.)
And I'm thankful for past children's lit contexts, too. I'd be a different person today without Brookline Booksmith or Simmons College, both of which got me talking and writing about children's books. There's no better way to learn about them, except maybe to read them with children. I'm thankful for the chances I've had to do that, too.
Oh, and I suppose the time I spent as a reading child is also worth acknowledging. Nostalgia for childhood reading has come up a few times recently (I won't even get into the whole Princess Bride debate, except to say I love how a book and movie about what stories mean to people mean so much to people themselves). The first books we love aren't necessarily the best books we'll ever read. But I know I reread my favorites (or dwelt in their series) much more than I reread anything nowadays. Kids watch the same movies over and over, and in many cases, they read the same books. If they're lucky, someone shares those books with them. We have time to get to know our favorites when we're young, to make friends with their characters, to let them teach us about the kinds of readers we are. I'm thankful for parents and teachers who read to me and handed me good books to read myself. I'm also thankful that they threw up their hands and let me read series they thought weren't as worthwhile, and sometimes even read those series with me. I don't think it's a coincidence that this '90s kid, who ate up the series that were popular then (excepting Goosebumps, which wasn't my thing), grew up to be a realistic fiction reader and writer.
Happy Thanksgiving. May your travels, if you make them, involve a good book.