You may be wondering, as have many friends and family members, what is the significance of “Puddle Reader?” The name is a creation of my own whimsy, and the following explanation may seem like nonsense to some readers. But read on, and may you find a semblance of sense in my logic!
Have you ever looked into a puddle, or pond for that matter, and for a few seconds pondered the wavery, upside-down, splish-splashy trees, sky, cityscape, or world around you? The reflection of yourself? For me, “reading” puddles serves as a reminder of the importance of imaginative perspective, a perspective so often found in books for children, and a perspective that (in my humble opinion) could be incorporated into day-to-day life more often. It is a reminder, too, that there are different ways of reading. This is something Dennis Haseley captures beautifully in his picture book with Jim LaMarche, A Story for Bear, where he describes Bear listening to a human companion read out loud:
Whenever she read, he felt waves of mysterious feelings carried by her voice. Sometimes her voice was soothing and the bear grew peaceful; and sometimes she sounded excited or scared and his hair bristled and he gave a low growl; and sometimes her sounds were tender and he looked up at her and watched her fingers gently lifting a page, and a page, and a page. These feelings often stayed inside of him as he lumbered back to his world at the end of the day; and sometimes, in the babbling of a brook, he would think he heard her again and become quite happy.
Bear’s experience of reading has very little to do with interpreting words on a page. He reminds us of the many dimensions to reading, to stories and to their telling. The Puddle Reader philosophy and hope is that we all might bring such a sense of wonder to the books we read, the stories we tell, and the world in which we live.