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In Response to Memoir Prompt August 2012: Childhood Books by rmcginnis
What a great prompt! Though I know I was read to as a very young child, I don't recall any of those picture books. My first memories of being read to must have been when I was about 5; I know this because I can remember where I was (at my great aunt's in a small western NY town). I only lived there a few months while we waited for my father to return from the Pacific. In the crowded den of the large and comfortable house, there was a bookshelf with old books with cloth-covered bindings. The book was green and very thick. It was Heidi. I don't remember much of the story but I can still recall the ink drawn pictures of the curly headed Heidi and her old grandfather with the gentle eyes and bushy beard. I can see them walking down the mountain into the town in the valley. I remember waiting each night to hear the next episode and repeated attempts on my part to listen to "just one more chapter."
Another book from that time of my life was The Little Match Girl, a Christmas story of a little girl homeless (I think) on the streets of the city during the Christmas season. Again the pictures are vivid, the story line more vague. In contrast to the quiet ink drawings of Heidi, these were rich in color.
My most vivid memories, however, are of being an avid reader once the magic of letters was unraveled. I was hooked on the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Sue Barton (Student Nurse), Cherry Ames (Airline stewardess) and the books of Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy/Tacy books) who glorified life at the turn of the century in a small town. My 10 year old self just couldn't decide among the choices: being a nurse, detective or an airline stewardess. On any single night, depending on what I was reading, I was sure I'd be just like the character on the page. (None of those came to be!)
MY friends and I traipsed 2 or 3 times a week to the small local library emptying the paper grocery bags of the returns and filling them again with the promise of new stories. I have occasionally picked those books up and wondered why/how they so intrigued me, but then, those were the magic days of childhood and they were my friends.
Fortunately my reading changed over time. My horizons expanded, the closed worlds of those days and times and places opened to vaster ones, and the world was more diverse than that portrayed by the authors. But to them I say "thank you" for showing me the joy of reading.