Magical Doors

Books Are Magical Doors
Books Are Magical Doors

I imagine you enjoy a good book. Maybe you even love them. In our high-tech world (and I’m not knocking technology … I’m just sayin’) we have other ways of grabbing tales. Playing online games can be a way of tossing yourself into a snippet of a tale. Engaging in the flurry of text messages and social media posts is another way (“what’s alive now in my friend’s life?”). We grab one another’s tales in the snowstorm of media.

I used to be a voracious book reader. Family vacations saw me packing a stack of library books to read during the hundreds of miles in the car (I did look up now and then to enjoy the strange, new territories!). These days, while I read a fair amount, it is by way of a book app more often than not. I think that’s ok, but I do love the feel (as folks often say) of a book lying open in my hands.

In any case, by book or book app, I still read children’s books. And I still read to my daughter (a teen now), every night at bedtime. We (and her older sister) have journeyed through hundreds of tales over the years, hundreds of magical doorways together. And in doing so, we’ve shared a landscape woven of some very diverse territories, from times past and into futures present. We share a magical world of imagination.

One of the surest ways to share magic with kids is to read aloud to them. I’m sure you know that and do that already! There are many good reasons to do so: inspiring literacy and a joy to read, creating and nourishing connection. I just want to add my fairy coin to the mix. When you read to your child, you weave a world together. With the books you both really enjoy, you touch into Soul–yours and your child’s.

Notice what your child loves to talk about regarding a story you’ve read. As in relaying any story, your child is revealing her soul–what brings her alive, where her special qualities may lie. The same is true for you. Story, sourced as it is from dreams (so to speak) can reflect like a mirror on a person’s deep nature. When your child (or you) puzzles over a conversation between characters, or recalls a particular incident in the story, he is revealing himself in the noticing. His yearnings, his hopes, or aspects of his own character.

Try this: Next time you read to your child, ask what really struck her in the story. What scene really stands out for her? What did she enjoy most? Or least? Or …? [fill in the blank with a question or two of your own]. Sometimes a child will feel like talking about the story right then, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s better to wait until a later time to ask questions.

And ask the questions of yourself. What scene is most alive for you in the story? What upset you most? What touched you? Did any event or conversation or image open your heart, make it feel as if it was viewing something absolutely true for you?

Great treasures lie in stories, treasures for the soul. The stories are magical doors to those treasures. And books are lovely physical doors, with bindings you can open, and maybe some illustrations.

Read aloud to your child. Read aloud to him for as many years as you can.

What books have you enjoyed reading to your children? What books did you enjoy that were read to you–when you were a child, or perhaps even as a grownup? Please share your favorites here!

Reading Is Magic - photo art by Gwynne Valencia
Reading Is Magic – photo art by Gwynne Valencia. I’ve just finished reading aloud the Harry Potter books to Gwynne for at least the eighth time!

Book Preview & Birthday Celebration!

Red Fox - art by Jane Valencia (c) 2011
Red Fox – art by Jane Valencia (c) 2011

You are invited!

When: Saturday, July 27, 2013

Time: 7-9:30PM

Where: Plain Old Farm (contact us for location)

Cost: None! Just bring yourself, family, friends. We invite you to bring a snack, dessert, or drink to share. See the end of this post for what else you might bring.

If you plan to come, or might come, please RSVP.

About the Event:

Because Of The Red Fox is close to publication!  I’m also about to celebrate a significant birthday (hint: how many stars are on our US flag?). I have vowed to family and friends, and now to all of you, that my manuscript will be complete by this event. All that will  be left to do will be copy-edits and some book production miscellany. The story itself will be done. No more revisions!

So, if you happen to be on an enchanted island in Puget Sound, come join us! The first hour will be devoted to stepping into the world of the Red Fox. I’ll read some from the book and share some tales. We’ll have music and some magical nature fun. We’ll also enjoy yummy food and good company around a lovely fire in the beautiful outdoors amidst some amazing and friendly trees.

My mom, Joyce Kiefer, who is a published poet and writer and with whom I share a birthday (she is turning a significant age as well) will share a couple of poems. We’ll have other surprises, too, as this event is very much a celebration of the magic of life here on the island and of my communities, all of which are woven into my novel in some form or another.

It promises to be a special evening, one that will be even more inspiring if you join us!

Please also bring: a chair or blanket and anything else you might need to be comfortable outside. If you can, please bring your own plates, utensils, & cups. Do you play an instrument? Tell stories? Want to share a song? We’ll have time for stories, music games, and more from all of us.

I hope you can come!


A Winter Solstice Fantasy

Santa here.  Hey, Jane’s got a story here about Shell and Grayhorn SilverAntler.  Oh, you haven’t met Grayhorn yet, but he’s another magical friend.  Anyway, this story is done up in Abracadabra House dolls.  No, wait — Jane wants you to know that her friend Lisa Mathias at Journey School Stories creates these dolls.  Not Aunt Elin?  Now I’m confused!

Anyway, here is the tale, created on the Winter Solstice!

Shell on Grayhorn SilverAntler

On a bleak icy Midwinter’s Day, Shell Wakefield rides with her friend Grayhorn SilverAntler out into the bone-chilled fields.

Shell and Grayhorn encounter the hens

A herd of giant hens roams the weary field, pecking open rotting pumpkins and jabbing at the frigid innards. A frightening sight!

Shell and Grayhorn SilverAntler remain steady, watching this amazing scene. Who would have ever expected that giant hens would have “a field day” through the Hundred Acre Wood Farm Community gardens!

Miracle of spinach

The more Shell and Grayhorn gaze, the more wonders they spy–everyday miracles of a row of spinach poking forth despite the freeze.

A radish too ...

… and even a perfect radish.

Shell - doll by Lisa Mathias

“So much is hidden away in all these tired rows–” Shell begins.

“Plenty, even with the giant hens,” Grayhorn says. “Amazing indeed!”

“And not just greens–” Shell gasps, “Oh, Grayhorn–look over there!”


… A row of newly blooming calendula cheers on the tiny life of the emerging winter sun.