When we weren’t reading, we were pretending – and most of our pretend play was based on the books we had read. On weekends we would act out favorite scenes, or do the things the characters liked to do. It was that sensory experience, more than anything, that brought the books alive for us, that let us break from the old-fashioned syntax to feel, smell, see, taste, and hear the distant story in our own place and time.
We couldn’t read Heidi, for example, without stopping to assemble a tray of a few chunky slabs of cheese and a wooden salad bowl filled with milk. Tom Sawyer had us building forts in the nearby woods; The Secret Garden sent us beyond the rosebushes to scratch out “a bit of earth” in the hidden space along the fence.
After we moved to the farm, Little Women introduced us to the joy of putting on plays in our tumbledown barn. Treasure Island took us out to the orchard to bury our favorite objects, pirate-style.