Reading Lives: Childhood Memories

Last semester, a three-year-old was looking at our children’s books while her father made some copies. I walked over and showed her my favorite.

“it has words in it,” she said. I agreed that it did.

“Then read it to me.”  So I did.

People are not always aware that the NSCC library has a solid collection of children’s books. We support the early childhood education program, but we encourage everyone to browse through the section. Parents can find some gorgeous Caldecott winners to take home to read to their kids. And anyone who wants to get re-acquainted with Pippi, Madeline, or Harold should also stop by.

Our question for this week: What children’s book made the biggest impact on you?

Colette: I grew up to become an English teacher and a Library employee, so it stands to reason that I love books; I always have.  I have so many fond memories of wiling away afternoons, reading, in the hay loft of our barn, or curled up in the exposed roots of a Cottonwood tree. I loved each and every book I read as a kid (except the insipid Little Bear nonsense), but books were just snippets of pleasure and escape.  It wasn’t until I was a little older (fifth grade perhaps?) that a book had a profound and lasting impact on me.  Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree knocked me sideways with its beautiful message and it was the first time I truly felt the power of language.   

Emily: My favorite author as a child was Beverly Cleary — in particular, the Ramona series. However, I don’t remember the Ramona books having any lasting impact on me. I also dabbled in the works of the Baby Sitter’s Club, American Girl Series, and Little House. All were something I consumed and forgot. The award for lasting impact goes to Little Women, not exactly a children’s book, but my dad gave it to me the Christmas of my kindergarten year and read it to me each night thereafter. I related to Beth and her desire to be good and was devastated when she died. As I grew older, I began to relate more to Jo and her fierce independence — I’m moving to the city to be a writer! I’ll never marry! For me, she was the model of what a woman should aspire to be. Amy, on the other hand, was loathsome and I’ve still not forgiven Laurie for marrying her. She was all I wanted to avoid in life (you know except maybe the European adventure part). And then there was Meg…poor, forgettable Meg. 

Pam: Perhaps my treasuring older things – versus brand new goes back to my pulling for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Mary Ann! I so pulled for these two as they worked as a team to prove they were still worthy under big pressure and competition! Too, I’ve often adored the simple country life in a teeny tiny house with a teeny tiny yard and teeny tiny garden with a teeny tiny cupboard and a dog and white picket fence…so I reckon The Teeny Tiny House made quite the impression on my teeny tiny brain 🙂 Third, (cause I can never choose just one) I have often remembered Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and how he lived in the city in that bathtub. I remember feeling so worried for him! Oh, and there was A Gift Bear for the King and Goldilocks and…I’m beginning to see what an important role these books did play in exciting my imagination! Great fun!

Sally: It’s hard to narrow it to narrow it to just one, so I have two. 1. William’s Doll.  Shows that there is nothing with boys playing with dolls.  It will help them become good fathers. 2. A Golden Name Day by Jennie D. Lindquist. About a little Swedish girl and her special day. My grandmother was Swedish. 

Jolly Librarian: One book that I loved was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Probably for a kid in Alabama, the idea of that much snow was as exotic as safaris in the desert would be for others. I also loved the book’s colors. It is the one book I always give as a gift to small children who come my way. I can’t imagine growing up without it. My other favorite book was Little Women. I think I probably started out with the abridged version from a trip to Murphy’s  Mart where I was allowed one book a week. Like Emily, I identified with Beth and was devastated at her death. I read that book over and over, hoping each time that Beth would somehow be miraculously saved. Alas, she never was. And I had to cry all over again.


8 thoughts on “Reading Lives: Childhood Memories

  1. My favorite series was The Boxcar Children. My librarian told me that the book would be “too hard” for me when I was in 1st grade, so she wouldn’t let me check it out – I was easily at 5th or 6th grade reading level in first grade, but she didn’t care. So, I waited until 3rd grade when she would allow me to read them. I fell in love with chapter books from then on. LOVE those boxcar children!

    1. William made a cool diorama out of a shoebox for a class “Boxcar Children” project. He just read The Mystery at the Alamo, and made the four children, putting them in front of the Alamo as part of the
      movie set scene.

  2. My favorite series was Goosebumps. I absolutely couldn’t get enough of a good scare. The lasting impact it left on me: I don’t trust ventriloquists nor the dummies and I am deathly afraid of spiders. So maybe not a postive impact but I guess it depends on how you look at the situation.

  3. Pam – my son William loves the Teeny Tiny House also! I read to him my brother’s 1960, 25 cent, Little Golden Book edition. Remember those books from the Racine Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin? They were sold in the grocery store check-out areas.

    1. I still have my copy of the Teeny Tiny House, which my mother bought for me in the grocery store check-out line 🙂

  4. Even though the Little Golden books were favorites growing up, there was a series of books-Sue Barton, Nurse about a rural nurse. Couldn’t wait for new ones to come out. Between the 5th & 6th grades, my teacher gave me Gone with the Wind to read. Still an all time favorite, not a children’s book, though.

  5. Before I started first grade, (we did not have pre-school), it was the Golden Books, especially, “The Little Engine That Could.” Next, it was “White Fang” etc., and the Pathfinder series. In 5th or 6th grade I discovered Isaac Asimov as a science fact and fiction writer. I discovered that he could tell a great story, and he really knew science which helped me to understand science.

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