I have always loved to read. I can recall sunny, summery days when my brother wanted me to come outside with him and play but I didn’t want to because I had my nose in a book. Oh how mad he would get at me, complaining loudly that I had already read that book! Sometimes that was true, I would re-read a book, especially if it had made an impression on me. With my own seven children, ranging in age now from 21 down to 10, whether they were under my homeschooling tutelage or at public high school, I have read to them and encouraged them to read on their own. Visiting the library was, and often still is, a weekly family outing. Some of my children do read, some only if they have to, but I have tried to share with them the books that meant a lot to me when I always had my nose in a book. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and recall some of those books that I enjoyed in my younger days, and perhaps they will form a reading list for an enterprising parent or grandparent.
The first book I remember reading all by myself was Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I adored the pictures that the talented Miss Potter had drawn for the book. I remember stumbling over MacGregor and sieve, but eventually figuring them out. That was a proud moment for me.
A second book that I remember enjoying was The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne. The bedtime tales invented by Mr. Milne for his only child, Christopher Robin, were funny and full of interesting animal characters. I really enjoyed getting to know the different personality quirks of Owl, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Piglet, and of course, Winnie the Pooh.
The third book, and one I was guilty of re-reading was Charlotte’s Web. I don’t like spiders at all, I realize they do a great service to mankind, and this book helped to illustrate what a true friendship could really be like. Once, after reading E.B. White’s classic, I went on an anti-pork project and didn’t eat bacon or ham for a bit.
The Little House books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I have read and re-read these also. I remember receiving the boxed set one Christmas from my Uncle and Aunt, who live in that metropolis of Chicago. I was unfamiliar with the books, but my Aunt, who loves books, had enjoyed these when she was a girl and so the choice was made to give me a set as a gift. What a wonderful gift too! I really immersed myself in the saga of the Ingalls and Wilder families, in their journeys as pioneers across the Great Plains until they ultimately settled in De Smet, South Dakota. The television show based upon the books soon hit the airwaves after I received my book set, and I was a regular watcher of the show, but it often bugged me how the tv episodes didn’t exactly follow what happened in the books. I made it a point 9 summers ago that since we lived in Missouri, our family would travel from St. Louis to Mansfield, where Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband Almanzo farmed, grew apples, and where the Little House books were written. There is a very nice museum there, and one can see belongings and pictures of the Ingalls and Wilder families. One can also walk through Laura and Almanzo’s home. In fact, since our 10 year old was only a baby when we went, I think it is time to re-visit!
Nancy Drew mysteries were also read voraciously by me. I think I was in 5th grade when I noticed other girls at school reading those books, an entire set had been either donated or purchased by our school’s library. I tried to read them in order, but that was impossible as they were constantly being checked out so I had to read them as I could grab one! My Chicago relatives came through again with a nice set of the books for me that Christmas, too. I enjoyed Nancy’s smarts, the fact that she was always so fashionably dressed, had a blue convertible, loyal friends, and always helped capture the evil doers at the end of each book, foiling their plans to steal jewels or swindle some elderly person of their money.
Other books that I delighted in were: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson, Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, both by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Little Women and Little Men and Jo’s Boys, all by Louisa May Alcott, Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, and many of Beverly Cleary’s books: Ramona and Beezus and Ellen Tebbits.
Reading is such a wonderful hobby to have. Books can take one to far away places, to past times in history, to allow one to walk around in someone else’s shoes and experience their life with them. As our pediatrician told my 19 year old daughter when she was 5, “Reading makes your brain smart!” So by all means, grab a book, a favorite spot to sit, and read to your children, your grandchildren, and read for your own betterment!