I was a lucky child. My Da was a reader. He loved books, therefore I loved them too. I think parents often forget this, that their habits are being watched carefully by their children and copied. My Mother was not a reader, but she took us to the town library every single Saturday and it was a family tradition that on our birthdays, we got a book. We were a poor farming family, so we didn't usually get anything else from our parents on our birthdays, but what is better than a book? I still have my copies of The Wind in the Willows, Anne of Green Gables and the whole set of The Little House books. It didn't matter that my Da loved history books, what I saw was him READING. I also saw that he treated his books with something near reverence. It stayed with me.
Liv is not the voracious reader that I was, but she does read daily and every night I read to her before bed. This is set in concrete. No matter how tired or crabby I am, she gets a chapter read, or maybe just a few pages if she falls asleep. Liv much prefers drawing or playing the violin or piano and her book choices are not what I would select, but she reads.
I feel a little pang that she doesn't like the books that I adored as a child. She found the Ramona Quimby books boring. She was twitchy with yawning when I tried Little House in the Big Woods. But, once we hit Harry Potter, she was a goner. She was the same for The Hobbit, The Land of Oz and any book that involved some sort of magic or adventure. She loves to jump on the thrilling bus, I was more content to read the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, the Beany Malone set by Lenora Mattingly Weber. Liv and I do share a love of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. And what child would not be pulled into this from The Secret Garden:
"If tha'goes round that way tha'll come to th'gardens," she said, pointing to a gate in a wall of shrubbery. "There's lots o' flowers in summer-time, but there's nothin' bloomin' now." She seemed to hesitate a second before she added, "One of th' gardens is locked up. No one has been in it for ten years."
"Why?"asked Mary in spite of herself. Here was another locked door added to the hundred in the strange house.
Wow. That paragraph just begs you to come find out, doesn't it?
I can't get through my day without a book. It pleases me that I have a stack of books that I haven't read yet, that are sitting in my bookshelf in that special waiting place, just sitting quietly, knowing that one day I will slide them off and dive into them. My favorite gift is always a book store gift certificate.
On my waiting shelf now are:
1) later, at the bar by Rebecca Barry.
2) To my Dearest Friends by Patricia Volk.
3) Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.
4) The Maytrees by Annie Dillard.
5) The View From Mount Joy by Lorna Landvik.
6) The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand.
7) Harmony by Joanna Goodman.
8) Anything For Jane by Cheryl Mendelson.
9) Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb.
10) Feeling for Bones by Bethany Pierce.
They are all library books. I can't afford to buy all the books I want, so I go to bookstores armed with a pen and paper and write down all the titles I see that look interesting and then get them from the library. Sometimes, this involves waiting several months for the books to get to be my turn to read them. This is very good for me. It reminds me of when I was a kid and had to wait for my birthday. And it is good for Liv. She goes with me to the library and has her own card. She learned at an early age to be gentle with books, never to write in them or smear them up. Our happiest times are when she is on one end of the sofa reading her Stuart Little and I am on the other end, reading my When Charlotte Comes Home (which, by the way, is simply brilliant.)
I will save my junior high, high school and adult favorites for another post. My childhood favorites besides the ones mentioned above were all the colored Fairy Books by Andrew Lang (green yellow, red, pink, grey, violet, crimson, brown, orange, olive, and lilac....and I vote The Olive Fairy Book as the most exciting, how about you?)
What were your favorite books as a child?