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Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl!

I think that this is the fifth year his family has celebrated Roald Dahl's birthday with the world. A recent website offering states:

"Roald Dahl was born in Wales and spent his childhood in England. After a stint in the Royal Air Force, he moved to Washington, D.C., and it was there he began to write. After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Dahl began writing children’s stories, many of which were dedicated to his own children. Roald Dahl is now considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to grow. His stories are currently available in almost fifty languages.

The official Roald Dahl website currently attracts two million visitors per year, with an online membership of about 200,000 fans. Ten percent of author royalties from all Roald Dahl books, films, plays, and merchandise are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity (formerly called The Roald Dahl Foundation) makes seriously ill children’s lives better by raising money to support crucial care and support services across the UK. By providing nurses, equipment, carers, and toys—by working with hospitals, charities, and directly with parents—it improves the lives of children who are living with specific serious and life-threatening conditions. Since being founded in 1991 by Roald Dahl’s widow, the charity has distributed nearly £7 million and is proud of its strong record in funding crucial nursing posts in the areas of epilepsy, acquired brain injury, and haematology. There are currently forty-six Roald Dahl Nurses throughout the UK.

The first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated on September 13, 2006. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually. In the UK the day has been expanded to the whole month of September, and is now celebrated throughout the world."

Our family celebrates with all of Roald Dahl's fans. We spent many happy hours reading about Charlie, Matilda, Mr. Fox, Danny, The Twits, The BFG, The Grand High Witch, and James and his aunts, Spiker and Sponge. We missed none and many were reread together, and in solitude. What a remarkable time we had! I also shared them year after year in my classroom and still have former students stop me to tell which was their favorite tale. It is an honorable legacy.

If you haven't read any of Roald Dahl's books, now is the time. I guarantee that you will be entertained. I am lucky enough to have been gifted a collection of Robert Harrop figurines depicting many of my favorite characters. It began when David, Vicki and Victoria went to England and brought back James and the Grasshopper, in conversation. And then it grew and grew and grew! Today it reminds us of the lovely and lively times shared with each of them over the years and even today in conversations and memories.

Here are some enduring quotes:

"A whizzpopper!" cried the BFG, beaming at her. "Us giants is making whizzpoppers all the time! Whizzpopping is a sign of happiness. It is music in our ears! You surely is not telling me that a little whizzpopping if forbidden among human beans?"

"I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage."

"The prime function of the children's book writer is to write a book that is so absorbing, exciting, funny, fast and beautiful that the child will fall in love with it. And that first love affair between the young child and the young book will lead hopefully to other loves for other books and when that happens the battle is probably won. The child will have found a crock of gold. He will also have gained something that will help to carry him most marvelously through the tangles of his later years."

Roald Dahl helped us do just that!

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