“Wisdom begins in wonder.” Socrates
My name is Donna Burke Esgro. I am a California Credentialed Teacher, Language Arts Tutor, Founder of The Butterfly Book Club (an after school enrichment class for children), Founder of Save The Bookworms (a grassroots movement to save endangered readers who are rapidly disappearing from major cities across the U.S.), a Montessori teacher, and, formerly, Director of a Montessori school for children six weeks to six years. I am a passionate advocate of high quality early childhood education and an active member of NAEYC, LAUP, and First5LA. I love hiking, snorkeling, fireplaces, starry skies, stormy weather, writing, and reading under trees. I hate unkindness, violence, hypocrisy, junk food, materialism, and the statistic that 32 million adults in the U.S. are illiterate.
I fell in love with books when I was six years old. Every afternoon, after a hot and sweaty recess, I would come back into the cool classroom with its half closed blinds, polished floors, and scarred wooden desks. Ignoring the bustle and chatter of the other children, I would take my place quickly, my eyes on our teacher who sat silently at the front of the room, her hands folded on the distinctive, crinkly, cellophane wrapped cover of a closed library book. The book that our teacher read to us that year was E.B.White’s Charlotte’s Web, and for the first time I realized what a book could do. I understood that reading wasn’t about recognizing letters, remembering phonics and stumbling over phonograms. Reading was a journey, a magic carpet ride, capable of taking me anywhere; anytime.
Charlotte’s Web opened wide both my mind and heart. While I learned quite a bit about the life cycle of a spider, I also fell deeply and irredeemably in love. My days were brightened by the presence of Wilbur and Fern. I mourned Charlotte’s death. I understood viscerally the joy and wonder of books. From then on I was an avid library card holder. I walked to my local library almost every Saturday morning, dreaming the hours away under the library’s arched and gilded ceiling. My arms ached from the books I carried home-each holding its own mysterious promise.
Winnie the Pooh, Nancy Drew, The Little Prince, Black Beauty, Mary Poppins, these were among my childhood friends. In high school I discovered the classics and came to know Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Harper Lee, Guy de Maupassant, and Dostoevsky intimately. In the slanting light of late afternoon I traveled to London, danced at Paris balls, was shocked by 1930’s Alabama, and horrified by George Orwell’s future. I got lost in the grey streets of Russia and wandered the gardens of Wonderland – all reachable through the narrow corridors of the library shelves.
In this age of fast paced electronic media, where the children I encounter are more likely to be carrying an iPad mini than a book, I feel a call to slow children down, to build a bridge over these roiling modern waters to quieter, contemplative places.
My blog is an answer to this call.
© Donna Esgro and Use-Your-Words.org, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Donna Burke Esgro and Use-Your-Words.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.