Monday, March 25, 2013

Express Yourself--Some Favorite Childhood Reads

Before I talk about books of my childhood, I want to mention a favorite book of my teen years. As it happens this post will appear on March 25th, a special day to fans of The Lord of the Rings, since according to Tolkien's laboriously detailed chronology this is the date the ring of power is destroyed.  It is often known as Ring Day or Tolkien Reading Day, and when I get done here I plan to go curl up with Frodo and Sam and Aragorn for awhile. 

The first book I remember having as a child, besides Little Golden Books,  was a 3 volume set called "A Family Treasury of Children's Stories." 
The books were subtly transitioned by age, progressing from Nursery Rhymes, through short stories, chapter books, poetry, mythology and biographies.  It was here I first read "The Velveteen Rabbit" Sherlock Holmes, and Winnie the Pooh.  I was introduced to poems from Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet's Book of Americans which is still a favorite.  And it was here, in several excerpts from Edith Hamilton and Thomas Bullfinch, that I discovered Greek and Norse mythology, sending me down several paths that are with me to this day.

As a child I read everything I could get my hands on. (The Girl is the same way today, but my parents didn't have the advantage of free Nook downloads).  I loved series books and read my way through the school libraries collections of Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, The Happy Hollisters, and other less well known.  I loved book fairs at school and still treasure a number of those paperbacks. A friend introduced me to the What Katy Did books. I also loved The Borrowers and The All of a Kind Family stories. The Wizard of Oz, Heidi and Swiss Family Robinson were on my shelf too.  Most of these books are ones I later acquired new copies of for my children.

The best thing my parents ever did for my reading habit was to never tell me I was too young for a book,  They figured I would get what I could out of them.  My dad was a big fan of Cornelius Ryan and Jim Bishop, so I plunged into The Longest Day, and The Day Lincoln Was Shot at what was a far too early age I am sure.  But books like that left me with an interest in history I have kept ever since.

But my two favorite writers when I was young were Rudyard Kipling and Louisa May Alcott.

An aunt gave me my first copy of The Jungle Books, which I proceeded to love literally to pieces.  I read Kim, The Just So Stories, and much of his poetry at an early age too.  There was something about his ability to tell an unbelievable story in a believable way that has stuck with me.  That and the rhythm of his poetry. 

The greatest book gift I received as a child though, came from a friend of my mother.  The lady had only boys, and wished to pass on some books for girls onto someone who would appreciate them more. Knowing my mom had three daughters the books wound up at our house.

This set of Louisa May Alcott books was one of the great treasures of my childhood.  Although I had already read  Little Women and still have a treasured copy of 8 Cousins that my grandmother bought in Concord and wrote the names of my (then) 8 cousins inside the cover, to be in possession of a set like this was riches indeed.  I read them all but especially the tales of the March and Campbell families. As much as I like the Little Women books, I think I like Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom even more.  Something of Louisa's spunky attitude and firm belief that women's career choices were valid no matter what they wound up doing stuck with me.  (We forget now that Ms Alcott was quite a feminist for her time period).I also learned a lot about catharsis from these books, cause no one could kill people off like Louisa May.  I have returned to these books again and again, as well as to many more of Ms Alcott's books (35 books in one volume for the Nook, 4.95) My daughter loves them as well, so her appeal is safe for at least one more generation.

These are some of the books I loved most as a child.  Being left to explore books with out judgement (at least from my parents) as to subject matter or maturity levels was a great gift, one I have tried to pass on to my own children.  I doubt they will pick the same favorite books some day, but at least I know they will have a list.

This Post is part of  Express Yourself Meme. To see what other bloggers are saying on this same topic please click on the link


  1. Wow! You have some collectibles there! I heart the Little Women novel.

    1. Thanks Jackie. I do love my books and I love to write about it.