To continue our “how we learned to read” posts, there are a few more stories that we have to share. Megan and I have been at the store since we opened in June 2008. Being a recent college graduate and a current college student, we have read a lot of books, good and bad, in our school careers. Through assigned reads like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Jane Eyre, our childhood books still stuck with us as a comfort that we looked forward to reading for fun.
Megan was rewarded with an American Girl Doll, Felicity, for officially learning how to read (though she isn’t quite sure how her parents gauged this task) . As most girls of the 5-10 age range know, each doll comes with her very own beginning chapter book. Megan remembers poring over the book about “the spunky redhead with a penchant for mischief-making and riding (other people’s) horses.” The American Girl books are favorites both to us 90s children who are now grown and to young beginning readers, as the series continues to expand. There’s a doll (and story) for every girl!
As for being read to, Megan has two stories that she will always remember. Corduroy by Don Freeman was often read aloud to her by her mother, so much that they both still have it memorized. But what Megan remembers the most was the last quote of the book (where her mother would always get misty-eyed): “‘This must be home,’ he said, ‘I know I’ve always wanted a home.'”
If you’ve come into the bookstore and asked Megan about her favorite book for a middle grade reader, she has probably told you about the other story she loved in childhood—Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods from the Little House on the Prairie series. This book triggers many different memories for Megan— first as a book she used to snuggle up in her parents’ bed to listen to, next as a book she read on her own, and finally as a book she read out loud to her siblings. Why does Megan love this book so much? She says, “I was enthralled by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s descriptions of day-to-day life, especially how she made candy by pouring maple syrup on snow. To a little girl growing up in the Phoenix desert, this sounded simply magical!”
I swear Harry Potter was the only book I ever read as a child. Or so it would appear by looking at my current bookcase. By the time I was in third grade, the fame of the boy who lived was all around me and I picked up the first three books. With the delay of the books being published, I at some point ended up the same age as Harry, which made the books even more magical for me. I must have read those books a million times each (no exaggeration), and I have now read the third book so many times that the book broke in half (it was the saddest day of my life).
I did read before the third grade, even if I didn’t read the books as much as my Harry Potters. I remember always having books around, and, since I was a bilingual child, French and English books shared a space on my shelf. Possibly due to easier phonetics or because I went to an English school, I first gravitated to Dr. Seuss (in English). I remember we had a few of the big Dr. Seuss collection books, but the one I picked up was less intimidating, Ten Apples Up On Top. I practiced and practiced, and maybe even memorized it a little, until I got all the words right, and then rushed to show my mom what I had learned to do.
Hopefully we’re triggering some fun memories of your favorite childhood books. Let us know about them, or come on by and find them in the store. We always love to talk about books.