Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Joy of Letters - Eleanor Shepherd

           I love letters and I love words!  I often joke with Glen that numbers hit my head and fall right off.  They just do not stick. Letters and words however are another thing.  They penetrate into my head and I roll them around and play with them and find all sorts of creative ways to put them together.  I think it all started when I was quite young.

            The memory still lingers of the excitement that I felt when I realized that the letters I knew could be put together to form words and those words were strung together to create stories.  It was an adventure to me to see on the page. "See Spot run"  "See Sally run."  "See Dick and Jane run."  These characters came to life for me through the words and pictures in the books and soon I was reading stories about what was happening in the neighbourhood of Our New Friends.  This led to tales of the Bobbsey Twins, followed by the mysteries of Nancy Drew.  Soon doors to new worlds opened for me through the classics - Little Women, Great Expectations and The Scarlet Letter.  Somewhere along the way, I began to gather together letters and words and experiment for myself, finding ways to give expression to the ideas that were roaming around in my head. 


              Later as my children came, I watched as they made similar discoveries.  By then, they were introduced to words not only through my reading to them, but also by their exposure to Sesame Street with different letters as the stars of the show every day. I remember the day I was driving past the mall with my son, observing the world from his car seat behind me. He saw the huge S on a store. "What is the S for, Mommy?" he asked.  "S is for Simpsons," was my reply.  Then whenever we passed that spot, he would shout, "S is for Simpsons."  It was not long before he too discovered how letters could magically be put together into words.  His love of letters was matched with an insatiable curiosity so he always wanted to know why.  I was delighted when he was old enough for us to buy him a set of books that made up a children's encyclopaedia.  (This was before the days of the Internet.)  Then when he asked why, I could tell him to go and look it up and come back and tell me why. 


            Now I see the same phenomenon in another generation.  We step into the elevator and my two and half year old granddaughter points at the buttons and says, "S for Sanna."  Her name is Sanna so she recognizes the S.  Then she says, "S for Sous Sol."  She knows that sous sol is the French word for basement and that is why the S is on the elevator button.  She is learning the same letters but is organizing them into her three languages.  When she wants someone to read her a book, she knows that Grandma can read her books in English and French but if she wants one of her Swedish books, she will have to ask Papa (her Daddy who is a Swedish Canadian).  Another generation is learning the joys of words in her own unique way.  And it all starts with that marvellous collection of letters we call the alphabet.  

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award



Tracy Krauss said...

Hooray for generations of word lovers. Hooray for a legacy passed down that is worth so much more than riches.

Peter Black said...

You encourage us word lovers to 'come out' Eleanor. Thanks for sharing your delightful reminiscence spanning the generations.
Hmm, and your little 2 1/2 year-old granddaughter's three-language start? . . . Wow!--Wonderful! ~~+~~

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