By Micaela Cashman
As I’ve been writing this blog the last 6 months, I’ve been thinking about why I read. Why do I have to bring a minimum of 4 books with me on every trip I take? Why is it impossible for me to understand people who DON’T read? Where did my love of books begin?
My mom always says she and my dad read to me from day 1. The first book I remember loving is the one pictured above–How Fletcher Was Hatched by Harry and Wende Devlin. One weekend spent with my mom’s side of the family when I was maybe 3 or 4, I came across this book and loved it so much I carried it with me everywhere we went. Literally. It’s in every photo taken that weekend.
How Fletcher Was Hatched is a charming story published in 1969 about a farm dog, Fletcher, whose owner has baby chicks hatch. Suddenly all she cares about are these stupid little chicks. Dejected, Fletcher wanders off to meet up with his otter and beaver pals and hatch a plan to win back his owner’s affection. The friends construct a giant egg for Fletcher to hatch from and put those lousy baby chicks to shame.
The book provided a charming escape for a shy little girl who did NOT like being told how “cute” she was, but it was more than the story that enchanted me. My grandfather on my mom’s side of my family was quiet. He was a World War II vet who lost his wife when my mom was just 7 years old and worked as a TV repairman to support his two children. He was not gregarious and playful like my other grandpa. But I loved him. And our favorite thing to do together was read.
Our favorites were the Peanuts comic collections Grandpa Joe had all over the house. To this day, nearly every room of my home features some sort of Snoopy memorabilia as an homage to my childhood. But then one day I came across How Fletcher Was Hatched. It turns out, when my mom was little, my grandpa wanted to encourage her to read more, so he signed her up for a book club. Each month, she would get a new picture book in the mail. And this was one of them.
I was at my parents’ house a few months ago looking through a box of old books that I could share with my new nephew, Nolan (passing the Cashman love of reading on to another generation). When I came across Fletcher, I wrapped both arms around the thin little book and pulled it tight to my chest, just like I did when I was little.
Maybe that’s what I love about reading. It’s not just about the story. It’s about the history of it. Where you got the book. Where you were when you read it. What it meant to you at the time.
Maybe that’s what I love about reading. It’s not just about the story. It’s about the history of it. Where you got the book. Where you were when you read it. What it meant to you at the time. I’ll always remember that I first tried to read Roots during a family trip to Colorado. And I’ll remember sobbing in my college apartment at the end of One Day by David Nicholls. There are certain books I keep on the shelf just because I got them at The Strand in NYC, or a train station in Florence, Italy.
My Grandpa Joe died of cancer when I was 7. I don’t have many memories of him, but I do remember that weekend with How Fletcher Was Hatched. And I do remember sitting on his lap to read the funny pages of Kalona’s Sunday newspaper. That’s why I read. A few pieces of paper can connect generations. They can connect you with your younger self. They can connect you with those who are no longer here.
And that’s what Storyhouse Bookpub is all about, Charlie Brown.
Micaela Cashman is a Des Moines writer, classic rock music enthusiast, and power-reading friend of Storyhouse Bookpub.