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Father’s Day – Memories of my Dad & Why I Love Reading

June 17, 2011

l to r – my big sister Betsy, Dad, mom’s cousin Emerson and me

Every year on Father’s Day I try to make sure I set aside time for a little reading, usually a children’s book. Why a children’s book you ask? Two reasons, I work for a children’s book publisher and there are plenty on hand at my house, but mostly because it gives me an opportunity to remember my Dad who was one of the people who showed me what it is to truly love words, and books and reading.

My Dad was a surprisingly versatile man, he was a WWII veteran, who worked in a bank during the week and taught night school, and for a man in a serious profession he could really deliver a good joke. He mowed the lawn on the weekends and took our family on fun vacations to Cape Cod and New Hampshire every summer, and he was a huge RED SOX fan. He was a talented public speaker (I think back in the 50s and 60s he would have been called an “orator”), and was a member of  The Toastmasters , and when I was four  he repaired the arm  on my stuffed doll when Mom was working—that’s right, he could sew too.

My most special memories of my Dad are the times he’d read to us, or with us. My favorite story to hear was Peter and the Wolf, I still have that tiny book.

A Family Favorite

He also read us a book about a bunny, and made little bunnies out of tissues for my siblings and me—we never grew tired of watching the fluffy bunny appear.  I thought books, especially the books read by my Dad, were truly magical.  When we were ages 6, 7, and 8 he recited The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes to us and we were spellbound.

He helped me learn my part when the 4th grade class was performing  The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, and I think he’d be proud that I can still recite quite a bit of it many years later, he was a good teacher who let us know that it’s good to stretch and let yourself be challenged.

A few years later it was Dad who helped me make sense of Jack London’s To Build a Fire, Boccaccio’s The Decameron and several other “great books” that would have been beyond the reach of most 5th graders, and with his guidance I was able to navigate Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle for an oral report, fostering a lifelong admiration of Charles Darwin, and a heart and mind that don’t shy away from a challenge.

My Dad left us too soon, I was only 12 when he died, and I often wish I could have talked more with him about books, and well, everything else too. So on Father’s Day I will be reading and wondering  what Dad would be reading if he was still here with us. I have a feeling he’d choose something funny this year.

Please share a favorite Father’s Day memory with us—of your own Dad or of reading with your children.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Betsy permalink
    June 17, 2011 9:38 am

    Thanks, Katie… now I’ll have red eyes all day, but a happy heart , too.
    love, Betsy

  2. Erin permalink
    June 17, 2011 10:36 am

    Kate, I love this post. And that cover of Peter and the Wolf is awesome!

    My dad read to me until I was in at least 8th grade. He preferred animal stories like Where the Red Fern Grows, while I loved Anne of Green Gables and The Melendy series. We compromised on things like Half Magic and Over Sea, Under Stone.

    There’s a new book out from the girl who read with her dad into college called The Reading Promise that is about this topic and looks wonderful.

  3. Hal Fales permalink
    June 17, 2011 11:11 am

    Nice to hear about your Dad. My Dad you used to love to recite The Highwayman and I can still do a bit of it from memory
    See you soon

  4. June 17, 2011 12:42 pm

    What a beautiful post and lovely tribute to your dad. It’s funny, we seem to write a lot about moms. But dads are often forgotten. You’ve inspired me to write something about my father. And for a memory: My father used to run two miles every night around the high school track. Once when I was little (maybe 5), he took me with him to play in the sandbox. As he was doing his laps, he didn’t see me in the sandbox because I was jogging along in back of him. Trying to catch up. He likes to tell that story. I like hearing it.

  5. June 17, 2011 1:44 pm

    It would be difficult for me to share a positive memory of my own dad, but I have many positive memories–already!–of the man who’s father to my 21-month-old. Many of those memories involve our son sitting on his lap as he beams with pride and tries to focus on the words he’s sharing with his son. I love those moments, and I love knowing my son will celebrate his father in a way neither of his parents could celebrate theirs. 🙂

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