I’m posting this entry earlier than usual this week because tomorrow I’ll be flying to Denver to be at the American Booksellers’ Association’s Winter Institute to promote my new novel that’s coming out this May.
This is a post about a little boy, who was shy and sensitive, but also very curious. The boy that I was who had the good fortune of having a mother who loved to read and who went to great lengths to make sure that I developed that love, too.
One of the things I loved to read was Highlights for Children. Remember “The Timbertoes,” “Goofus and Gallant,” “The Bear Family,” “Hidden Pictures?” Remember the stories and puzzles and jokes? How many of you, like me, encountered that magazine for the first time while in the waiting room at your doctor’s or dentist’s office?
I wonder what your memories are of Highlights. I wonder whether your own children do, or did, enjoy that magazine. Will you send me your thoughts, your memories, your stories? I’d love to hear them.
Recently, I paid a visit to the public library in the small town not far from where I grew up in southeastern Illinois. I was surprised to learn that the library no longer has a subscription to Highlights because, in the words of the children’s librarian, “It was under-utilized.”
“Animals are big,” she said, showing me a copy of National Geographic Kids. “The kids love animals. They like the pictures.”
It astounds me to think that the library no longer has Highlights. I remember sitting next to my mother in the waiting room at Doc Stoll’s office in this very town, a copy of Highlights open between us. I see us there now. I try to read one of the stories, and she helps me with the words I don’t know. We do the puzzles, we find the hidden pictures, we read the jokes. Sometimes she reads a story to me. Her voice is soft, and I want to listen to it forever.
“Let’s read another one,” I say to her when we finish one story.
And we do. My kind and patient mother. I can still hear her.
“All right,” she says.
Then she turns the page, and we begin.