I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood (if we discount the years from third to fifth grade when I thought books were boring and would much rather have been out playing baseball and tennis than sit and read). From an early age, I would sit in my parents’ laps and listen to stories, or lie on the floor by myself, looking at the pictures in the books and telling myself the stories. (This latter habit led me to strongly dislike that fellow Abraham for several years, until I learned that he never killed his son whom he had laid upon an altar of stone.)
My parents read to my brothers and me as often as we asked and they had the time. But then, once I learned to read, the world opened up to me. This morning, I was looking at my bookshelf and saw some of my childhood favorites, a couple of which I’ve had since childhood, the others which I bought on eBay: Ann Can Fly; Little Black, A Pony; Look Out for Pirates; The Whales Go By. I’ll still read these books today, simply to immerse myself in memories, and the feeling of pride I had as I learned to read each one all by myself.
My childhood was replete with sports, activities with my brothers and friends, and travel — but some of my fondest memories focus on the books of my youth. Once I’d passed beyond the Dr. Seuss books, I soon discovered Nancy Drew, and then the Hardy Boys. Not a huge fan of the Bobsey Twins, but I loved the Railroad Children. And how many standalone books did I devour, time and again, haunting the juvenile fiction shelves in our local libraries?
This post isn’t simply a trip down Memory Lane, but a reflection on how books helped influence who I am today, what I do, what I love, what I teach my children, what I seek as comfort, and where I draw from for hope and enlightenment.
Today, I continue to read “juvenile” fiction: the entire Harry Potter series, the recent Hunger Games series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so many more. Fiction books abound, and I’ll never read as much as I want to, but my desire to read was launched when I was a little girl. Really, what better gift can you give a child than a book? If you don’t know what books to give or recommend, I’d suggest looking for the Caldicott Award Winners. Or, look into your memory. What books did you enjoy as a child?