CREDOS : Love of books — I

In 1967, on the last school day before summer vacation, I recall coming home and giving my parents the envelope that contained the name of my new assigned teacher for fourth grade.

With trepidation they opened the envelope and groaned. Oh no, not Mrs Geyser! What was wrong with Mrs Geyser? I asked. She’s too easy, they responded. She’s too new, they accused. Let’s kids get away with murder, they complained. Doesn’t challenge them enough, they griped. Sounds good, I thought. We’re transferring you to another class, they swore. I thought they were serious.

But over the summer my parents forgot their concerns and when school resumed that September, there I sat in Mrs Geyser’s fourth grade class at Horace Hawes Elementary in Redwood City, California. Now many years have passed since then, and I’ve taken hundreds of classes with hundreds of teachers. None, however, have had the impact of Mrs Geyser. Why? She was the teacher who taught me the joy of reading.

The first day of class she announced that every afternoon we would have reading time. Every day, we groaned? Couldn’t it be every other day, we tried negotiating, with arts and crafts in between? Mrs Geyser held firm. She had selected the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. We would begin with the first book Little House in the Big Woods and by June would conclude with These Happy Golden Years. Happy schmappy. This was going to be a long year. —