The Joy of Learning to Read - The Magic Onions

The Joy of Learning to Read

During the summer of last year, I received a letter from Anna Branford. She said that she loved reading The Magic Onions and had been following our story for quite a few years. She said she felt a strong connection to our family and thanked me for sharing our lives with her. She explained that she was an Australian authoress of children’s books and had a strong feeling that Kitty, my then 8-year-old, would really enjoy reading one of her books… and could she send one to her. Yes, I replied gratefully.

A few weeks later, a package arrived for Kitty. She tore open the wrapping and was delighted to find inside; a book, a pretty little matchbox and a letter from Anna. Anna explained that the matchbox contained little treasures from the story and could Kitty the treasure that related to each chapter?

Kitty’s eyes twinkled with delight. She has always been a lover of little things and to think that each chapter had a treasure was truly enchanting to her. Until then, she had not yet desired to read a chapter book on her own… she preferred to read picture books and leave the chapter books for our bedtime reading with me reading aloud to her.

She opened the matchbox and poured over the sweet little creations inside… a gnome, a tiny cloths peg, a pretty little shell…

A golden cat, a snowflake, a jewel…

She read the title of the book… ‘Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot’. “Mom” she said… “I think I want to read this book and find where the treasures belong.”

She opened the book and on the first page was a note written especially to her! “To Kitty, who I bet is a brilliant plotter herself! Love from Anna”.”MOM!” Kitty gasped… “this book is about a girl just like me!”

And, thus began Kitty’s love of reading. She devoured Anna’s gorgeous book, reading chapter after chapter and matching the treasures from the matchbox as she followed the story. And Violet turned out to be just like Kitty too… a knitter, a vintage flea market lover, a finder of tiny treasures.

“Mom!” Kitty said when she had finished Anna’s book, “A whole new world has just opened up to me!”

And so it has!

Thank you Anna, for taking extra special care with your gift to Kitty. I have no doubt that the little matchbox of treasures you included was the spark that lit the fire that now burns all on it’s own. So thoughtful and so clever!

Your book is a treasure… a little girls first experience of what a joy reading can be.

I highly recommend the Violet Mackerel series… it’s delightful! Here is a link to Anna Branford’s website to read more about her and her books.

Blessings and magic to little readers everywhere,


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Donni Webber is the mom behind the popular natural living Waldorf website and blog, The Magic Onions - where the magic of nature and the wonder of childhood collide to make each moment a precious gift. She is a photographer, writer, crafter, wife and mother of two inspiring young children. Her work has been featured in many popular publications, including HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Disney and Apartment Therapy.

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  1. Thank you for the link! My daughter is also an avid reader!

  2. What a great story, so thoughtful of her to send that.

  3. That is just lovely. How thoughtful and kind. And how fantastic that your daughter was able to find her love of reading through such a special connection.

  4. I loved to read when I was Kitty’s age. I always had a book at hand. So wonderful to discover the magical world of stories. :)

  5. Anna’s books are just delightful. I have read them to my very little girl (2 years old) and she often asked for more of “mummy’s book” to be read while she was doing something. I can’t wait for her to read them herself when she gets bigger xoxo

  6. How thoughtful and what a wonderful idea! I think even as an adult I’d be intrigued by the little matchbox of treasures and trying to figure out how they each fit!

  7. How marvellous! My 8 year old loves to read and I am constantly looking for appropriate materials for her. I will check it Anna Branford now!

  8. She’s got an owie on her knee.

  9. I love those books. There is a little bit of Violet in me too and I am very much a grown up. I love the thought of little girls all over the world connecting with Violet.

  10. what a wonderful post (and book!)…always a joy to come to this place in blogworld. love from nz xxx

  11. What a lovely & inspired gift!!!

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