March, March, March, March! The repetition of this word, this action, this month, makes me think of one of my favorite Marches: Jo March. In 1868, shortly after the Civil War was over, Louisa May Alcott’s father, Bronson, was talking with a man who was a publisher of children’s stories. This man told Bronson that they were looking for a story for girls. Bronson told his daughter and asked her to write such a story. Louisa, who had been writing and writing for many years, didn’t think she could do it. She liked best to write “blood and thunder” stories full of drama and disaster and deeds of derring-do. But Bronson encouraged her and Louisa decided to challenge herself and write what she could. She wrote in her diary that she didn’t know how it would turn out. She didn’t really like little girls, and she didn’t even know any, except her sisters, but she figured she would just write about her life and the things she knew best, even though that regular life seemed very boring. What flowed from her pen eventually became Little Women, one of the most beloved stories of all time. “What a good joke on me,” Louisa wrote later.
March is a good month to go back to a classic, well-loved story. For one thing, March is a very long month, and it seems longer following on the heels of short little February. And March isn’t always the most pleasant month to be outside. At least the beginning or the end of March seems to be filled with cold wind and rain and changing weather. What better month to find a nice cozy place to sit, where maybe you can see the changing spring sky, and read or reread a classic book? I can’t think of a better time.
Where is a good place to start? Well, of course there are the old classics like Little Women, or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or Anne of Green Gables, or Treasure Island. Those books, with their humor and excitement and familiar story lines are wonderful choices. Another good place to find a book is in the lists of Newbery award and honor books. Did you know that the Newbery Medal winner of 1956, not quite 100 years after Little Women was written, went to Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorenson? Virginia Sorenson was the first Utah resident and member of the church to win this prestigious award, and her book is still charming and insightful. Then there are other favorites: Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White, which won a 1953 Newbery Honor, or A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.
But a book doesn’t have to be a medal winner or more than 100 years old to be a favorite. My family loves and has read Joan Aiken’s hilarious and delightful books about Mortimer, the Jones family’s raven, time after time after time. His adventures begin with Arabel’s Raven. Another family favorite is the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald. We love these stories and laugh every time we read them.
The main thing is to read. Make March a month of memorable reading. It’s something you’ll enjoy, your children will love, and you can look back on with fond memories forever.