Saturday, February 1, 2014

When I was Young in the Mountains

Author:  Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator:  Dianne Goode
Published:  1982
When I was Young in the Mountains was written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Diane Goode. This is a story of a young girl growing up with her brother and grandparents in the Appalachian mountains.  The story, like the pictures, are simple and left me wanting to visit that quiet, peaceful, loving place.  The book shows the love of the family and even the love in the community.  You can feel the warmth of the home and you feel safe. 

Mrs. Rylant starts each new memory with, "When I was young in the mountains."  The repetition of this sentence reminds me that this story is a memory of a simpler time.  Ms. Rylant is very descriptive in her writing and when I read the book without regard for the pictures, I was taken back to loving and safe  memories of my own childhood.  Visualizing the story is very easy.  The grandfather covered in dust from work, but kissing the girl on the head reminds me of my own grandfather hugging me and laughing after coming in from working on his farm.  The smell of the food on the table reminds me of special meals with my own family too.  Even when she goes to the swimming hole with her brother you feel safe.  The hole is out in the woods, no adults are around, and there are even snakes, but there is no fear.  The life is simple.  I wonder if children of today relate in the same way to this story.  I see my own children who read a book on a Kindle, play the Xbox in the evenings, and have access to a tv for entertainment.  If we go swimming, I'm watching them like a hawk at a beach or a public pool with life guards. 

I will use this book to teach my children about writing a memoir.   I tell my students that to really understand the memoir, you need to find a way to relate.  Although they might not understand the simple way of life, they will understand love from a family member and for someone else, taking care of others, the memories that come with certain smells, times when they had to be brave, and times when they had someone take care of them. 

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