Monday, March 7, 2011

SAS-SAF: The "Loft" Children

Logo designed by Elizabeth Dulemba
Every day this week in honor of Share a Story, Shape a Future, I will be responding to writing prompts to help in celebrating the "Gift of Literacy."  Literacy is very near and dear to my heart for a variety of reasons.  Books were a great escape for me when I was child.  I could easily get lost in one book or another, and welcomed it!  It taught me about the world I live in.  It taught me about people different from me.  It taught me to step into other people's shoes and learn to look at the world through their eyes.  Books shaped me.  Books let me get lost . . . and they let me find myself once again.

When I read the first writing prompt provided in today's Writing @ Reading Day 1 post, I knew that it would be the one that I would be able to respond to with the most passion.  If you are frequent reader of this blog, then this story may not be new to you . . . but I encourage you to read on anyways!  One cannot give enough praise to a book that has had a great impact on you!

Who was the first person from a book (real or imagined) that you wanted to be when you were a child?  Why?

It is not one person that comes to mind when I hear this question, but rather a group of people . . . four young siblings, in fact.  When we are first introduced to these children, they are hungry and searching for a place to eat and sleep for the night.  They are alone, without parents; however, they are not truly alone because they have one another.  They find some food for the night and a place to sleep, but when the owners of a bakery threaten to ship one of them off and work the others for free labor, they devise a plan to sneak off into the night and once again survive on their own.  They eventually find their own home in an abandoned boxcar, the oldest finds work to support his family, and they learn to live off the bare essentials and be happy.

These siblings are Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny and they are better known as The Boxcar Children, created and nurtured by the author Gertrude Chandler Warner.  As a child, I read this book over and over again.  I really cannot tell you the number of times.  And, I remember the librarian commenting that I was checking it out AGAIN?!?  It was not uncommon to find myself and one my childhood friends re-enacting the story on our own.  We did not have an abandoned boxcar, but we did have a loft in an old barn that did just as well.  We went on our own adventures, found our own household supplies, and used our imaginations to solve mysteries just like Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny move on to do in Warner's sequels.

As an adult, I have re-read this book a multitude of times . . . on my own and to both of my children when they were infants.  The magic is still there.  I really don't know what the power was about this book, or what it still is, though I have my theories as a wiser and more mature adult.  I tend to lean towards the independence these children had . . . the ability to go to bed when they pleased, being able to earn their keep and not have to report to an adult, to know that their contribution mattered.  As a true latch-key kid, I was often left alone after school, having to fend for myself.  I could relate!  Then again, I also had to wonder if it really came down to the relationships.  I was an only child.  I often wondered what it was like to have that special sibling bond.  I had my cousins, an aunt, and an uncle that practically lived with us during different times of the year, but never a full-time, true sibling.  I even look at my children now and envy the relationship they have (even during the bickering and fighting!).  It's a special bond that I will never know, but while reading The Boxcar Children, I could almost imagine that I was one of those sisters.

When it comes down to it, I think I wanted to be an independent sister . . . and these children filled that need! Thank you to Gertrude Chandler Warner for raising those characters, which in turn helped to raise me!


  1. Oh, I remember play-acting so many books and shows (My Three Sons on Gilligan's Island anyone?)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Tif! I always look forward to your prompts!

  2. Fantastic post! You know, I'm ashamed to admit I only just recently read The Boxcar Children for the very first time. I LOVED it! It was really a series of books I wished I'd had as a child because I could see how all the things you mentioned really would have hit home for me as well. Such a powerful little series. I'm glad they're re-releasing it! :o)

    Thanks again for such a wonderful post and everything you do with Share A Story! I love it!

  3. Such a great feeling! And all from a book. :) e

  4. Terry Doherty . . . Thank you so much!! That truly means a lot coming from you!! :)

    The1stdaughter . . . Thank you for such a wonderful compliment! I am so glad that you love The Boxcar Children as much as I do!! They are fabulous!!

    Elizabeth O. Dulemba . . . I know!!

  5. I read The Boxcar Children when I was little too! It's fabulous, and so are the sequels. I remember keeping a notepad and tracking all the clues to see if I could solve the mysteries before the Boxcar Children did (yes, I was that much of a dork!).

  6. Tif,

    Congrats on your nomination! I had to stop by to read your post. Your description of your imaginative play took me back to when I was a kid playing with the boys in the neighborhood. Great times!


  7. I love how you said, " It was not uncommon to find myself and one my childhood friends re-enacting the story on our own. We did not have an abandoned boxcar, but we did have a loft in an old barn that did just as well." It takes me back to a childhood full of acting, props, and imagination. For me, nature was the most magical place of all.

    When I look around the neighborhood now, I see a very different childhood world. Many seem to be inside their homes, immersed in visually stimulating worlds created by others. Either that, or they're often out playing organized sports. And so, that's why I'm a big believer in surrounding children with all kinds of books. They spark an interest in an alternate world, but leave much up to the child's interpretation. Children should not always have all of the blanks filled in for them!

    So, thanks for the trip down memory lane, Tif!

  8. Cayla Kluver . . . I love that you tracked all the clues on a notepad! I would try to solve the mysteries too, but never using a notepad! Why didn't I think of that?!? :)

    Happy Birthday Author . . . Thank you so much!! I've had some unexpected things come up, but while I'm sitting in the airport tomorrow, I hope to finally get over and read your's as well!!

    Dawn . . . Nature is so magical! I grew up in Montana and always had nature right in my backyard!! Sadly, I agree with you on today's neighborhoods. How do we continue to help our kids think outside the box?? Books are always the first thing I turn to!

  9. You brought back wonderful memories for me, as well, of acting out stories from books (and, I confess, from television). I hope there are still children these days who can lose themselves in books, and in making those books come to life in their own self-directed dramas.

    Great post! (And I confess that I haven't read The Boxcar Children, but I'll add it to my list!

  10. elizabethanne . . . I obviously recommend The Boxcar Children!! :) I also hope that there are still children who use their imagination and bring the books to life! I can at least say that I'm trying to with my children!!

  11. You have persuaded me that this is a gap in my childhood reading, and one easily remedied as an adult. Living across the pond means kidlit can be quite different at times. i love how you read it again and again. I recently blogged about letting kids do exactly that!

  12. Joanna . . . I definitely look forward to hearing what you think about this one! And, I need to check out your site more! Thanks for visiting!

  13. Did you catch this post today?

  14. Joanna . . . I had not seen this, so I am so glad you shared this with me! This is one book I will be checking out for sure!!!! Thank you!!!!


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