I have often wondered what gave me such an inordinate love of words. I find sheer delight in books, even in their physical design and format. One of my greatest pleasures when my children and grand-children were young was reading aloud to them. I am totally undisciplined in my spending in book stores. I am disturbed by the fact that the public library is not open on Sunday, the only day I have to spend long hours there? As I thought about it, I wondered what had precipitated these attributes in my character. The answer to my question was a woman’s name -- Miss Lyndall Fox.
Miss Fox was my seventh-grade English teacher. Since she was not a young woman when she introduced me to the world’s great literature in 1940, I can only presume that she has long since departed this earthly paradise. What a legacy she gave all the other students and me in that seventh grade English class. She gave us wealth more precious than gold.
I was so moved by this revelation, that I sought out that wonderful old literature book from which Miss Fox read to us. It was a delight all over again, that Hidden Treasures in Literature.
During that wonderful year that I was a student in 7-C, Lyndall Fox read aloud to us every afternoon: John Greenleaf Whittier’s "Barbara Frietchie," Browning’s "Home Thoughts from Abroad," "The House by the Side of the Road" by Sam Walter Foss, "Out to Old Aunt Mary’s" by James Whitcomb Riley, Walt Whitman’s "O Captain! My Captain!" These and many other classic works transported us to other times and other cultures. To this day, I remember the tears I shed over Edna St. Vincent Millay’s "Ballad of the Harp-Weaver." We kept company with genius that year in Miss Fox’s English class and didn’t even know it.
Although I have not studied what research has to say, I can only conclude from my own experience that reading quality literature aloud to students can motivate potential writers. Having been exposed to the experiences and environments of the world’s great thinkers has certainly been instrumental in whetting my own appetite for the pen.
It truly seems appropriate to conclude
with a prayer that Lyndall Fox be rewarded with eternal joy. She bestowed
her great legacy on hundreds of young students throughout her teaching
career and I, for one, am extremely grateful.
© 1990 Olga S. Hardman