Friday, October 4, 2019


Reading aloud and sharing new books with my students was one of my favorite things about teaching.

 I loved reading as a child. I would say I have always had an eclectic taste in books and read equal parts of fiction and nonfiction. I could be entertained with an encyclopedia as well as The Hardy Boys. As an elementary teacher, I  have to admit that I loved reading children's books. They squelched my burning desire to read and were easy so that I could read a ton during the school year waiting on summers to get to my rather long list of books waiting.

I tried to read new ones each year to always know what was out there and to be able to suggest just the right book for a student as I got to know them. Along the way I found the perfect books to read aloud to my favorite age group, 4th grade. I found that when I retired that collection of books was something I simply could not part with. Long time readers know I love my books.

One such find one year was read each February during black history month. Now this book grabbed me from the very first page. When teaching those said 4th graders writing, I would have used this to teach them about openings in writing. I would have said this book had a hook or a grabber depending on the book. 

This book definitely had a hook!

Upon reading this paragraph I literally had to reread it. Honestly, the first sentence grabbed hold of me. 

I hope you can see it. I love the sentence, "I told time by the trains that passed through the town."

"I walked behind Papa, listening to the dark, listening to the familiar sounds of the Alabama piney woods."

The Alabama piney woods. Then a train whistle. Immediately it evoked so many memories. I grew up most of my days until marrying after college in the piney woods of Alabama. Those pines surrounded my every view for most of my growing up years. There were other trees, but no doubt pines were a huge part of the landscape of my youth. Trains were the other common denominator. 

"Somewhere in the distance a train whistle broke the silence and floated on the currents of the warm May breeze."

Yep, I have listened to train horn blowing across the road, and off in the distance depending on where we lived, but it was always close to a train. In Columbus, Georgia it was probably a 1/4 mile away as a very small child, then across the highway as an elementary aged child when we lived in Range, Alabama. In middle and high school, we moved about 20 miles to the town of Brewton, Alabama where the train ran right down the heart of town and the sounds at night were off in the distance. I would go to Auburn University where a train again runs right through town and I lived right next to the train tracks for three of those years.

As you can see trains have been a part of regular sights and sounds. Marrying and moving to the Gulf Coast was my first experience with no train sounds. I did miss them, but I quickly noticed another sound that would take their place from then on...the sound of jets. I have a fondness for those too!!!

Back to the book.
The next page is even better.

"A shooting star raced across the heavens and I made a wish that one day I'd ride on a train to somewhere special --- a big city maybe where ladies wore shoes all year long and carried umbrellas when it wasn't even raining. Mama had been all the way to St. Lois, but she didn't think too much of city life. Said she was glad to get back home. But she didn't discourage me, saying, "Hold fast to your dreams and one day you'll get to ride a train, see all the sights you want to see." 

Hearing her, Papa always argued that it was the doers in the world who got things done. "Work, save yo' money, buy a ticket, and that's the way you'll ride ---dreaming aine got nothing to do with it." 
"But it's the dreaming-part that makes the working-part more tolerable," Mama usually answered."

It is truly a wonderful book and filled with so many good teaching tidbits whether writing tips, reading comprehension tips, or those life tips that I loved throwing in there.

I decided to share this one with you, because I was reading another book last night that a line made me stop and pause. You will hear about that one later:)

One of the great things about blogs is I love reading about the world outside mine. I have lived in a small swath of the southeast except for Germany as an infant.

Is there a sound or sight that is part of your core like trains are to me or jets to my children?
I would love to hear.

I promise I am stitching and have some to share very soon. Sometimes I just get a notion to write something down a thought. The other book's paragraph was on seasons. I can't wait to share that thought with you. 

Until then have a wonderful hot day,

Do you see Hank Heron?


  1. That first paragraph does indeed make you want to turn the page! Well done! If the first chapter of a book doesn't "hook" me, I usually put the book away and start another. I enjoyed this post, Sandy! I have been reading for as long as I can remember. Back in elementary school we could earn a Reader's Circle certificate if we read all the books listed for that year. I won them for first, second and third grades. Then we moved and they didn't have them at my new school.

  2. Great post, Sandy. When I majored in writing at BSU, we learned that it's so important to have an impactful first sentence. We would critique each other's essays, and it was amazing how often the best first sentence was buried at the end of the first paragraph. When we cut away all the introductory junk, it made the essay so much better.

    My hometown has a fire whistle that goes off every day at noon. It was that way all my years growing up, and it still goes off every day. When you hear it any other time of day, you know there is a fire and they are calling in all the available volunteer firefighters. Lord knows what would happen if someone had a fire at noon exactly! (haha... They do also use radio communications.)

  3. Sandy: I love trains, so far that is the last real sound of days gone by, even horns on cars have changed.
    When we have the patio door open in the bedroom at night the trains can be heard, sometimes it sounds like they will be coming in for a visit, they are so loud.
    My husband and his cousin have a love for trains and go to a the train museum in Duluth, Mn. yearly, nest week is the week they will go this year.
    We are avid readers, I am like you I will read anything and be entertained.


  4. I do see Hank Heron. I love to read and I loved reading aloud to my students (even the 7th and 8th graders; a good many had never been read to). We were supposed to do 15 minutes of SSR (sustained silent reading) daily, but in my classroom, I would read aloud to them. I felt it was a better use of time. When we stayed with my grandparents, the noon whistle would blow. I'm not sure if they still do it.

  5. I see Hank Heron, I love taking photo's of birds. Herons are so beautiful. I used to read a book or two every week, even when I worked. I love to read and need to pick up a book more often. That one certainly got my interest!! I enjoy hearing the freight trains go through town.

  6. Love this post! I enjoy reading today, but I was a voracious reader as a child, still I was surprised at how many children's books I hadn't read (or even heard of) when my boys were young. As a homeschooling mom, I found myself reading treasures I missed the first time around, and enjoyed introducing my boys to my favorites. I think their favorites made more of a mark on me than my favorites made on them, though. ;^) What I really love about this post is that it is a lovely personal way of writing about books. Or a favorite book. Or a book being currently read. I hope you don't mind if I try this myself sometime.

    1. I am not sure you will see my replies as I can't email you on the comments, but I will comment back here when I can. That is the great thing about blogs to me is sharing ideas and spurring on others. I have so inspired by many others. I hope my kids will enjoy reading all of this one day. So write away about those books.

    2. I do check back in case a response is left (not that I necessarily expect one - I try, but don't always leave responses on my blog). I often enjoy reading others' comments and a blogger's responses to them. It's all fodder for the gray matter.

  7. Another train person here, Sandy, as my house was just down the street from the train tracks that ran through our small town. I loved the sound of the rumbling wheels, the bell, and the whistle as it passed by not more than 200 yards from our house! But, I also remember those days when I returned to visit with small boys in tow and the trains would wake them up in the middle of the night as those weren't sounds they were used to :) So, I have a love/hate relationship with them!!


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