“Are You My Mother?”

A scratchy old phonics record was my first reading teacher.

A scratchy old phonics record was my first reading teacher.

A-apple, B-boat, C-cat, D-dog, E-elephant. The slow, steady rhythm of the voice on the record player continued through the sound of each letter with its corresponding word in the phonics series used in our home. We had no television, so the record player was always in use. I can still see the worn out pictures of the letters and matching words which were used by my older brothers and sisters, and eventually by me. By the time I started Kindergarten I was already an eager reader. “Are You My Mother?” “Go Dog, Go.” “Adventures with Jane.” The list is endless.

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Our Kindergarten room. A little piece of Heaven.


I distinctly remember our Kindergarten classroom. It was in our small school’s lunch room. The walls were decorated with a giraffe showing numbers, and the classic alphabet script on the wall. A train with a single word on each car grew in length each day as a new word was added. I still remember the conversation that Mrs. Wickman had with me. She let me know that she knew I could read the new words, but she was going to call on a different student each day. I’m sure I still continued to raise my hand in anticipation of being called to read the new word.










I can still remember where my favorite books on the Bookmobile were.

I can still remember where my favorite books on the Bookmobile from Valentine were located. Photo courtesy of Saint Paul Public Library

Another great adventure in our small town was the arrival of the Bookmobile. It was a rolling treasure chest. Every two weeks it would bring another book in the “Little House on the Prairie” series, or the biographies of famous people. Any book you could dream of was on the bookmobile. Stepping into the mobile library always brought a sense of smell like no other. It smelled like an adventure.

Reading to my own sons is a favorite memory.

Reading to my own sons is a favorite memory.

As time passed, the traditional favorites of “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” were passed to my sons, as reading became a daily activity, either snuggled up on the couch, or as a bedtime routine. “Read it again!” was a welcome chant from a little voice.





The tradition continues. I now read to my own students in the same elementary school.

Another page has turned, and now, I am the teacher at that same little school in that same little town. On the first day in my classroom, with my own elementary students gathered around, I found myself once again lost in an adventure within the print of a book. The usual noise from the classroom was at a hush as we were transported to the hull of a ship, just as a new foal was being born. Where was the ship going? Where did it come from? We’ll find out tomorrow, right after lunch.


5 thoughts on ““Are You My Mother?”

  1. Lovely story, Marj. I am envious of that Bookmobile! I would have loved that as a child (or even now!). You might enjoy a nonfiction picture book, Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile. See if your library has it. The Little House books were among my favorites as a child too. I had this fantasy of being Laura on the cover of On the Banks of Plum Creek (dancing on the roof of the sod house). I read to my sons every day too and it’s one of my favorite things that I do as a mom. We never, ever skip the daily read-aloud!


  2. Your post was so detailed! It made for a great read! I too started out with the books such as “Go Dog, Go” and “Are You My Mother?”. The bookmobile was always a great thing in our neighborhood because it came around in the summer when you weren’t able to make it to the library. It was almost like an ice cream truck because of all the excitement it provided.


  3. One of the perks of my new job is that I get to visit the Bookmobile again! The Valentine, Nebraska, public library sends out is bookmobile on a regular run. Our first scheduled visit is this Wednesday. I have my kids’ cards all ready to go, and am looking forward to creating my own new card. I can hardly wait to climb aboard a see if it’s still arranged the same way, and if it still smells as good as it did “back when.”


  4. I too am jealous of the Bookmobile! That as a child would’ve been a great time! Your post is so detailed it makes me feel like I was there along with you in the small classroom, decorated with giraffes and trains. Awesome post!


  5. We have a bookmobile here in our little town as well. The Bookmobile is fairly new though so I never got to check out any books but my little sisters always do throughout the summer. They seem to like it and they check out a lot of books every time. I think its great because it keep the kids reading throughout the summer.


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