The Book My Grandma Gave Me

Everybody else had gone to town, but she was happy she had stayed home. She glanced around the farmhouse. The floor was swept, the breakfast dishes done, the house tidied. Now her own fun could begin! 

She went to the one bookshelf in the house. Built into the writing desk, this shelf held all the books her family owned. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find the one book she wanted – the one with the light grey cover. 

After wiping her hands on her skirt to make sure they were clean, she slid the book from the shelf, and, carrying it in two hands, went outside. 

A smokey-grey farm cat scuttled in front of her as she stepped out the door. Many days she would have followed the cat, but not this time.

She settled in the sun-warmed grass near a scraggly tree. Here enough of a breeze blew to keep her comfortable even in the summer weather.

She opened the book. She knew just where she wanted to start reading…


This is how I imagine my grandmother as a girl, enjoying the book she passed down to me. What book was that? The Best Loved Poems of the American People.

There’s something special about poetry. As Betty Stam put it,

“Don’t you love the common words

     In usage all the time:

Words that paint a master-piece,

     Words that beat a rhyme,

Words that sing a melody,

     Words that leap and run,

Words that sway a multitude,

     Or stir the heart of one?…”[1]

Some of the best loved poems of not only the American people but of people the world over are poems that tell a story. Here are a few that you might enjoy whether you are 9 years old or 99.

  • The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Longfellow
  • The Children’s Hour by Longfellow
  • Rain in Summer by Longfellow
  • The Touch of the Master’s Hand by Myra Brooks Welch
  • The Wedding Gift by Minna Irving
  • The First Snowfall by James Russell Lowell
  • Snow-Bound by Whittier

Yes, I do love “Words that paint a master-piece/Words that beat a rhyme”. and, Grandma, I’m glad you do, too. Thank you for sharing not only your book of poems with me but also the book-worth of stories from your life. Happy Birthday with love!

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