Nostalgia Strikes: Weekly Reader Book Bag

Weekly Reader Book Bag
Third-grade status symbol, circa 1982

I had to have this the minute I spotted it at a big barn sale recently. I have no idea what I will do with it, but it was 10 cents. The minute I picked it up, I was transported back to elementary school. The Weekly Reader program was a big deal—not only did we get to get out of class, we got to buy books!

 I was obsessed with books even before I could read, and during the era of the
Weekly Reader bag, I was obsessed with Beverly Cleary. I remember buying my copy of Ramona and Her Mother at the Weekly Reader book fair, and I was in love the minute I read about Willa Jean’s teddy bear.
I read every Beverly Cleary book I could get my hands on over the next two years, but eventually I grew up and moved on. I forgot about Ramona for almost two decades. Then came September 11, 2001. The night the Twin Towers fell, I didn’t think I would ever be able to get the horror out of my head and sleep. I searched my bookshelves for something, anything, that would help me put it out of my head. There, tucked into the back of a shelf was my Weekly Reader copy of Ramona and Her Mother, and I started reading.
I loved the book just as much as I did in elementary school. It’s just as fresh and funny, and even more poignant. I laughed until I cried at Ramona’s carsick scene and felt just as bad as Beezus at her bad haircut. It was exactly the innocence that I needed that night, and I fell asleep knowing that there is good in the world, even when horrible things happen.
Every now and then, I pick up a book from my childhood. I have a 1977 Weekly Reader copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle on my bookshelf now. It is simply impossible to be unhappy when you’re reading about a mouse who can drive.

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