Wednesday, January 23, 2013
A Little Princess
One of my favorite childhood books was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I discovered the story when I was nine years old. My dad was taking a one year sabbatical from teaching. We spent half that year living in a rented home in Washington. My room was a tiny wood paneled boxlike space under the stairs. Instead of a door, a curtain separated me from the TV room. I thought it was quite a novelty. There was just enough space for a twin bed, a night stand and a built in shelf and desk. Very cozy. And best of all, the owner of that bedroom had left an entire shelf of books behind. Can't remember all the book titles. But I do know that is where I found a battered copy of A Little Princess. That's the first time I read this beautiful story.
I've reread it numerous times over the years. I like to gift it to little girls whenever the opportunity presents as well. And now, this week, I'm reading it aloud to my boys.
I wasn't sure how they'd react to this story. Not because the main character is a girl (Simon will be the first to tell you that's not a problem for him). But because, in the past, we've tried unsuccessfully to make it through Burnett's other two books: The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Perhaps they were just too young the last time we tried reading her work aloud. Perhaps the vocabulary was too sophisticated and the content too foreign from their everyday experiences. Whatever it was, they tried their best to listen, but we never finished either of the other two books.
My desire to share this beloved story won out over any hesitations. I told them it was my turn to pick the next read aloud book and whipped out an old copy of A Little Princess.
They are completely captivated by this story. We've been reading a good 45 minutes a day this week because they keep begging for "just one more chapter." They've been coming back to me periodically to try to map out how they think the story will end. They're wishing Sara isn't really an orphan and that the rotten Miss Minchin gets her comeuppance.
We should finish in the next day or two. Think I'm both happy and sad about it. Sad, because it's always hard for me to come to the end of any story I love. Happy, because my kids know this story now... Know it. Love it. And plan to reread it for themselves next.