I was a lucky little girl because I had a mother who read to me. Every night before bed, she would gather her little brood on the sofa and read aloud to us. She did this even though she was tired for her day began often before dawn as she helped with the farm chores before her children were up. There were eggs to clean and milk to place in cans before deliveries could be made. I remember her dozing off in the middle of the page and we would gently nudge her awake so she could finish the story. She didn't just read picture books. We also were introduced to Black Beauty and Robinson Caruso and other big books. A love of reading was a special gift she gave us.
She also had a repertoire of memorized poems which she would share as we worked together. I've been thinking about that lately and so I found the two I remember most to share.
Little Orphant Annie
Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay, An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away, An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ d ust the hearth, an’ sweep, An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’earn her board-an’-keep; An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done, We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about, An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out! Onc’t they was a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,-- So when he went to bed at night, away up stairs, His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl, An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wasn’t there at all! An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press, An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’wheres, I guess; But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ roundabout-- An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out! An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin, An’ make fun of ever’one, an’ all her blood an’ kin; An’ onc’t, when they was “company," an’ ole folks was there, She mocked ‘em an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care! An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide, They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side, An’snatched her through the ceilin’fore she knowed what she's about! An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out! An’ little Orphant Annie says when the blaze is blue, An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo! An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray, An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away,-- You better mind yer parents, an’ yer teachers fond an’ dear, An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear, An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about, Er the Gobble-uns’ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
I Love You, Mother
Then forgetting his work, his cap went on
And off to the garden he went to the swing,
Forgetting the coal and wood to bring.
“I love you, Mother,” said little Nell,
“I love you better than tongue can tell.”
Then she teased and pouted full half the day
So her mother rejoiced when she went out to play.
“I love you, Mother,” said little Fan,
“Today I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn’t keep,”
And she rocked the baby ’til it fell asleep.
Then stepping softly she took the broom,
And swept the floor and dusted the room.
Happy and busy all day was she,
As helpful and busy as a child could be.
“I love you, Mother,” again they said,
Three little children going to bed.
How do you think that mother guessed
Which one of them really loved her best?