The Little Engine That Could

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The classic children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, has been a favorite of mine through the years.  This book was first published in 1930 and has been a friend to generations of children.  So many times was our family copy read to our 6 children that it is literally falling apart.  It still sits proudly on the bookcase wearing its tattered pages as a badge of honor.  

Not only have my own children learned the lessons of hard work and optimism from the Little Blue Engine, my students have, too.  Sometimes, I read it at the beginning of the year as a way to set the tone for our classroom: we all can try, and when we try, we can learn and get better.  Sometimes, I read it on “Read Across America” Day. I like to pair it with another family favorite, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by DuBose Heyward.  This classic, published in 1939, also teaches children about being kind and helpful and hardworking.  Even my fifth-grade students sat at my feet and listened to some of “my favorites”-as I explained to them.  

Since The Little Engine That Could is so well-known, I doubt I have to remind you of the famous phrase that the Little Blue Engine kept repeating as he worked and worked and worked to get up the mountain and over to the “good little boys and girls”  who needed the “good things to eat” and “toys to play with.”  I think I can!  I think I can! I think I can!  the unlikely hero repeated.

Well, on one of those early and beautiful days this spring, when the breeze begs you to open the car windows as you putt along, my window was indeed wound down.  I was driving up Pine Street, a steep hill in our neighborhood.  A man on a bicycle caught my eye. Standing up, his foot bore down on the pedal with his full body weight.  Even so, the bike struggled to maintain forward progress.  Adding to his load was a bright yellow, two-wheeled child carrier that trailed along behind the bike.  This dad, huffing and puffing, was giving his little son, a boy of about 3 or 4 years old,  an early spring ride!  The youngster’s tow head, happy smile on his face, peeked over the top of the carrier, and then, to my great surprise, a merry sing-songy voice floated on the breeze, “Think I can!  Think I can!  Think I can…”                                                                                                                                                                                  

  A laugh bubbled out of my mouth.  Apparently, another generation of children is learning the value of hard work and optimism!

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About bjdonaldson

I think of myself as a Renaissance woman with a variety of passions. If you visited me, you might find me hanging out with my husband and children. Our Golden Retriever would be lovingly near. I am a Literacy Coach/Reading Specialist at an elementary school where I provide professional development and coaching to teachers. Formerly, I was a Reading Recovery teacher, an interventionist, and a middle and elementary classroom teacher. Getting up in the morning is not hard; I still love making a difference in the lives of children and teachers.

5 responses »

  1. That is delightful! I could just picture “the little biker that could”! Your description was perfect. Thanks also for the reminder about the Country Bunny. I loved that book as a child and still have my copy, and never thought of pairing it with the Little Engine this way. Thanks for the smile!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think is one of my favorite posts you’ve written (and not just because I love “The Little Engine that Could.”) Your love of this book shines through loud and clear. (I also love “The Country Bunny…”) I especially love the line “It still sits proudly on the bookcase wearing its tattered pages as a badge of honor.” I love that “badge of honor” thing–I think worn out books are probably the ones worth trying to read–they’ve been really loved up!

    Liked by 1 person

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