One of my favorite authors passed away over the weekend. Barbara Park was the writer of the Junie B. Jones children’s book series. I read from one of her books every day at school. It’s my after lunch, quiet time ritual. Even though it only lasts for five to ten minutes, it’s part of our day. The children sit at their desks, heads down, and listen…just listen. No pictures, only words.
Reading aloud to children (with no pictures) is a unique experience, and it should never be considered a dying art. The spoken word sparks the imagination and creates visions in the mind. It can take on a life of its own…it’s own voice, it’s own rhythm, and I believe it’s a crucial part of learning the written language.
There have been times I wondered if the children were paying attention but they never cease to amaze me with their giggles when Junie B. does something inappropriate or moans when I come to the end of a chapter and stop until the next day. The children soak her in, learn from her mistakes, and seem to understand just what Junie B. is going through at that particular moment.
And that is the magic of writing. Barbara Park had that magic. As a writer-wanna-be, I am always in awe of anyone who has the skill to write book after book and breathe life into each one. Mrs. Park brought Junie B. to life, her flaws and all, and I think that is why my children love her so.
We wrote about Junie B. today, and we wrote to Mrs. Park’s family. Here are a few of their writings…