Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekly Geeks #3: Childhood Books

I can't really remember learning to read, but into my earliest memories I can remember having a love for books. I still have some of my early childhood picture and story books ... books about farm animals, books about Jesus, ABC books, fairy tale books. Somewhere around the age of eight I read a number of books about animals ... Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe come to mind. I cried and cried over those two books. They were both about abused animals who were rescued from their cruel masters.

We had a wonderful elementary school library that was open year round. My first remembrance of that library was third grade. I was looking for a book that my mom had recommended. I couldn't quite recall the title of the book, so I marched up to the librarian and asked for help finding "this book about a little girl in the woods." Of course, the librarian knew I was looking for Little House in the Big Woods and took me straight to it. Over a period of several years I checked out each one of the books in that series and learned much about a way of life that was quickly passing. At some point I was given a set of these books for my very own, and to this day they sit proudly on my shelves and I pull them down and read from them on occasion.

I was always an ambitious reader and during the summer between third and fourth grades I decided to read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for the summer reading program. The librarian tried to talk me out of this endeavor and attempted to steer me back over to more "age appropriate" books, but she was not prepared for my metamorphosis from sweet little girl to "little miss stubborn." I did indeed check this book out and carefully placed it in my bookbag, along with a note from the librarian to my mother. The librarian was concerned that I would get frustrated trying to read something so advanced. My mom, on the other hand, encouraged me to read it if that was what I wanted to do. I read that book from cover to cover and actually enjoyed it! I only remember a few bits and pieces now, but I do recall the sense of accomplishment I got from reading an adult book.

My early adolescent years were spent reading mysteries. I owned quite a number of Trixie Belden books (anyone else read these?) and checked out many Nancy Drew's. At some point I read a historical fiction novel about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. I don't remember the title, but I do remember the excitement of delving into a new genre that I'd not previously experienced. As I got into my teen years, I took a reading hiatus except for required school reading such as The Pigman and Romeo and Juliet. I was more interested in various social and school activities during those years. I have since repented of my reading neglect and now read voraciously.

I must admit that I've recently delved back into Childrens and Young Adult books. I've got some young readers that often ask me for books and, of course, I indulge them. I just finished reading the Underland Chronicles (Gregor books) and felt just like I was in a summer reading program again. Anyone else read this series? If you haven't I would highly recommend that you drop everything and read these books! There are only five and they are very quick reads.

Favorite childhood books:
Black Beauty
Beautiful Joe
Charlotte's Web
Cricket in Times Square
Little House ... books
Little Women
Little Men
The Witch of Blackbird Pond


  1. These are my all time favourites too. I got into Fairy tales books in my teens! And read Roald Dahl quite late too.

    I was so hooked to Enid Blyton..


    Childhood Memories

  2. Jeez, and I haven't even read David Copperfield! I am so impressed that your Mom told you to go for it - what a way to encourage a kid who likes to read.

  3. You are bringing back memories for me as well! I used to love our weekly trips to the library, especially in the summer when there was a reading program. I always tried to read the most books so I could win a "big" prize at the end of the summer.

  4. You read David Copperfield that young?! Holy Cow! I'm totally impressed. I loved to read as a child, but didn't really have anyone to encourage me in my selections; therefore, I feel that I missed out on some great reads. I'm catching up now that my own children are beginning to enjoy reading.

  5. I read some Trixie Belden's but I wasn't hooked.
    I loved the little House books as well, they were so good. I couldn't even tell you how many times I reread them.

  6. My favorite childhood books:

    Nothing Ever Happens on My Block (a picture book)

    From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (which I'm now reading with my 7-year-old poppet)

    A Wrinkle in Time

    I remember having read all the books in the children's section of our Philadelphia Public Library branch, and being thrilled to head over to the endless stacks of big people books.

    Nice post.

  7. I actually read David Copperfield as a child too! It took me forever, and like you I felt accomplished when I finished too. I think I did enjoy it, but unfortunately I can remember very little of it. I'd like to re-read it some day.