The Stories We Keep

You’re sitting around the picnic table with your family. It’s the 4th of July, and you’re enjoying the food. Then, you hear Aunt Mary telling your daughter that when you were a kid you once made mud pies in her backyard that ended up on her kitchen window.

Your real stories may involve more or less dirt, but most of us have personal stories about our childhood that our families tell when we gather for special occasions. They are part of our family story – the bits and pieces of our past that are told to the next generation. The funny anecdotes about your uncles’ antics or your sister’s championship win – these are the stories that are kept for us by our families. Some of these stories we, consciously or unconsciously, begin to keep for ourselves.

Because I grew up in a family that values reading, one of the stories sometimes told about me involves a favorite children’s book. It goes something like this: When Aunt Sheryl was little, her favorite book was The Berenstains’ B Book. We read it so many times that she started to flip through the pages and “read” it on her own. But, she was too young to be reading, and we realized she had memorized the story page by page.

I was a fortunate child with a patient mom.

I keep this story because it reminds me that I am fortunate to have a mom who read to me before bedtime. It seems like a simple ritual, yet it influences a child’s growth in so many ways – from bonding with a parent to learning empathy to opening up a way to understand the world.

I keep the old copy of The Berenstains’ B Book because it is a symbol of what I am thankful for. Plus, I still love the story’s repetition, its tongue twisting and the ridiculousness of the story’s impending calamity. It will definitely stay on my shelf – ready for the next generation.

Do you have a children’s book that’s a part of your personal story or a story that you tell about your kids?

What books from your own childhood do you read to your kids?


The Berenstains’ B Book
by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Pulbished by Random House (1971)

The Berenstains' B Book

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