Preparing Boys for Life.
On Reading: Lower School music teacher and choral director Val Case
Karen Suter, Middle School reading teacher

In this series, called On Reading, Middle School reading teacher Karen Suter interviews Haverford School community members on their reading habits and book recommendations. In this blog post, Val Case, Lower School music teacher and choral director, Fantastic Fords band director, and accompanist for concerts and productions, discusses her favorite books shared with her sons, Josh Case ’20 and current Haverford students Andrew and Christian, in Form V and Form I, respectively. She shares her favorite sources of book recommendations, ways of reading, and favorite gifts to give.

Val Case

I like to read all types of books and I like fiction a lot—all different types of fiction. I have always liked to read. But, when I was a high school student at Villa Maria, we had a lot of summer reading and we didn’t have a choice of books. There were at least six assigned books and there was a test right away in September on all six books—that was a lot. Some of the books were very good but it was a lot and I didn’t enjoy that reading experience. 

How do I find books? I use my Kindle a lot, and Amazon gives me recommendations. I like to go to the library, and the librarians have displays that list of authors and genres, different books patrons might like. I listen to a lot of books too, like when I’m cooking. My ideal setting for reading? The beach! 

Nowadays you can find so much information, like on Pinterest. Even with my career, there is information I might have needed to go to a conference for in the past. Now I can find articles at my fingertips about things I want to teach, world events. I do a lot of reading, not only in books, but also online— there’s so much information available now. One example: my family and I are looking at information about dog training for our new puppy, Daisy. 

One of my favorite authors and series is All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. It’s a true story and is all about a Scottish veterinarian who came to England and the stories follow all of his little adventures. It’s such a wonderful series of books. I read them as a child and listened to them later. PBS made a TV series out of it, and now there is a new series! It’s good on so many levels. It’s interesting that writing wasn’t James Herriot’s primary job. He wrote on the side because he enjoyed it. 

Most recently I read I’ll Watch the Moon by Ann Tatlock. It touched on the importance of family, friendship, and faith in the face of hardship. 

Audiobooks allow me to fit reading into my day. I’m busy, but the ability to listen while I cook dinner helps. I sometimes listen in the car, but when I have my boys in the car, they listen to The Beatles. When they were younger, we used to listen to kids’ books in the car and we would sometimes stay in the car to keep listening once we arrived at our destination. We listened to all of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books! And Schooled by Gordan Korman. I wanted to make sure all three of my boys heard that story. 

I give bookstore gift certificates as gifts, because I want people to choose the books they want to read. I do buy books as gifts for my mother because she always has a list of books ready to go! 

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