Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Outside Reading

The girl is entranced by books. One of the first places we see her is in a bookshop, where she slides a ladder around to find and borrow a book she can't afford to buy, a book she wants to reread. The astonished proprietor ("but you've read it twice!") gives her the book and she leaves, rereading the book as she walks, singing happily.

"Oh, isn't this amazing/It's my favorite part, because, you see/Here's where she meets Prince Charming/But she won't discover that it's him, 'til Chapter Three!" She sits by a fountain and settles in to enjoy the book, sheep crowding her at every side, water falling behind her.

I'd never seen myself in a cartoon character before, but watching Belle on the big screen transported me back almost twenty years, to a summer of rereading. Staying at my grandparents' house in Connecticut, we had only the books left behind by my mother and her sisters. Like the movie's Belle, I carried my books outside. Grandpop had planted a Christmas tree grove and the trees formed lanes and little rooms, circles carpeted with pine needles and hidden by thick branches. I would carry a book into the cool shade of one of these pine chambers and read, inhaling the musty fragrance of old books along with the sap-infused air of the grove.

read the rest here...


  1. Very nice column. As always, something to think about. Oh, and I tried to comment on your last one but the message said "the first time you comment we will have to check it before letting it go through" or something like that and it never got posted. Hmmm.

  2. Wonderful essay, Libby. I was an outside reader myself. You reminded me that at one time in my youth, there was a certain tree where I would read. And I was -- hope I still am -- an outside reader in the other sense too. Thank you so much for this treat.

    Linda R

  3. Lovely, as always.

    And Mariah's revision is great.