This is a post from August of 2005 that I found while reading through my personal blog.
I finished reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg to Nan last night. As we giggled our way through the last chapter, I kept thinking what a joy it was to be able to share it with her. This was one of my favorites, one that I checked out over and over again. It was so much fun to read it to Natalie and experience it again — the scenes that were so familiar.
As I’ve re-read some of the books I loved as a child, I’ve come across some nuggets of wisdom or truth or beauty. Well-written words that make me think. And I can’t help wondering why I don’t remember them. When I read them before, I was just looking for a good story, a world to escape into. (Now, if you’ve read the book I just mentioned, you know that right now the main character, Claudia, would be saying, “Escape into? Is that the way you end a sentence? Really, your grammar is terrible!”) I wasn’t looking for wisdom or words that would make me ponder and grow. But while I was reading the “good story”, I was also reading great writing and great thoughts. How many of those thoughts crept in and changed me in some way, small or large? How much of the person I am today was shaped by the words I read years ago? And even though Natalie doesn’t seem to notice those “good parts” as we’re reading together, she’s still hearing them, they’re still entering her mind and becoming part of her.
Here’s the gem I came across last night as we were finishing Konigsburg’s book:
Claudia said, “But, Mrs. Frankweiler, you should want to learn one new thing every day. We did even at the museum.”
“No,” I answered, “I don’t agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.”