Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Childhood in Books: Part 1

Growing up, I was surrounded by books. Both my parents have always been voracious readers, my father will pretty much read anything you give him (mysteries and history books are his favorites) while my mother has always prefered non-fiction (especially alternative medicine and new age type books) so there was always a variety to choose from growing up. We also went to the library quite a bit and I still remember getting my first library card (which I still have!) when I was about seven.

I was recently talking about childhood books with my mother and noticed that she was having a hard time remember her favorite books as a young girl (in the 1950s). Then I tried to remember the important books from my childhood and was startled to find that I too was having trouble recalling them all! Luckily, my parents kept most of my old children's books so it wasn't too hard to go through them all and remember which were special and which were extra special. A lot of those books are books that were my mother's and some were even my grandmother's so in addition to being my girlhood treasures they are also family heirlooms! For posterity and entertainment purposes I thought I'd spotlight some of my all-time favorite books from when I was little. Most have special feelings and memories for me that I can recall in an instant while some are just silly fun that, for whatever reason, struck a cord with my young heart (or sense of humor).

David's Silver Dollar by Elizabeth Briggs Squires.

I can't even begin to say how dear this one was to me and still is. It was published in 1940 but my copy hasn't been in my family that long. My mother use to get a lot of children's books second hand and this was one of those finds. Besides the wonderful illustrations, the book has a sweet but simple story. Young David has been given a silver dollar by his grandmother and spends the rest of the story trying to figure out what he wants to buy with it before finally settling on a puppy, something much more special than any material thing he had been contemplating. Unfortunately I don't think the book is in print any longer so it might be hard to find. But if you're interested in it, call me up and I'll be happy to read it to you, =)

In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer (illustrator)

You know the feeling when you find a book that is something special? That warm, joyful feeling akin to making a new friend? The first time I ever felt that was for this book. I was about five and it was the first book I ever read entirely by myself. And then I reread it and reread it and reread it and... well, you get the picture. Whenever I wanted to feel happy (and a little scared) I would pick this up. However, when they say "scary stories" they mean scary stories (to a youngster) though so use discretion if thinking about getting this. Chances are that if the kid's favorite holiday movie was The Nightmare Before Christmas, like me, then this book won't bother them though. The illustrations are especially fetching and are akin to Edward Gorey. I especially loved the story "The Green Ribbon" and I think I read that one the most.

James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot

I use to love it when my mother would read to me and this was one of those unique books that appealed to both of us. My great-grandmother who was in her 90s even liked it! Basically, the book is a collection of stories set in rural Yorkshire around the mid-20th Century. James Herriot was a veterinary and his stories basically center around the animals he treated and the Yorkshire countryside he knew so well. I've gotten several other of his books over the years and can safely say that I enjoy them all as much now as I did when I was little.

1 comment:

  1. You are so lucky your parents kept your books. I don't have any left from my childhood, but we're saving all the best of our daughters' books. I really enjoyed reading about your favorite books; it's a pleasure to see how strong our love still is for those early books.

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