As the children begin another school year, it reminds me of my childhood - shopping for back to school clothes, getting a new lunchbox with thermos, and checking off the school supply list which included that brand new box of aromatic, perfectly pointed crayons.
Thinking about these things takes me back to my early years of reading and library experiences. As a former children's librarian who has recently "grown up," I am devoting this column to children's literature as I review my early literacy memories.
I remember my mother reading to my brother and me, especially before nap time. We heard stories from the Bumper Book, and enjoyed classics like "Little Engine That Could" and "Peter and the Wolf." My dad's favorite books to share with us were "Gift Bear for the King" and "Harvey's Hideout."
In my preschool years, we had a record player and albums with fairy tales which we would act out. My best friend and I played "office," where we scribbled on notepads and pretended we were writing. I remember looking at Archie comics and trying to figure out the story by looking at the framed pictures.
In first grade, I was not in the advanced reading circle - I was in the middle of the pack. We read primary readers featuring three siblings who each liked a different color.
At home, we read picture books from the Weekly Reader book club. I bought Archie comics for a dime each. Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary were another favorite. How interesting that her books are still available at our library today, except Ramona is now the popular character.
The first series I remember enjoying as an independent reader was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I discovered these on my own in the school library, and eventually introduced them to my parents and grandparents. I loved receiving the boxed paperback set one Christmas.
I was quite the Nancy Drew reader - reading all 50 plus titles that were out during my youth. They were hard to put down with cliff-hanging chapter endings! I was disappointed years later in library school when I learned Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for several authors.
As I matured in my reading ability, my grandmother introduced me to "Little Women." It remains my all-time favorite, and I've read it numerous times. I collected the Madame Alexander character dolls from this novel. They were a whopping $8 each.
I enjoyed participating in the local library's summer reading club. My kid brother, also a reader (but not diligent with his reading log), remembers that I was a world traveller on the library's wall map, and he never left our home state of Texas. Little did I know I would one day be the one putting summer readers' names on the library walls.
I had to laugh when I came across a "CHILDRENS LIBARY" sign penciled on notebook paper which I put together when I was 10 years old. I put "date due" slips in my own books, and then lent these out to my siblings, my friends, and imaginary library patrons. I guess I knew my destiny!
I love the fact that several favorite books from my childhood are on our library's shelves today, if they are not checked out and in the hands of one of our young readers. I enjoyed many of these with my own kids, and it is always fun to see other parents reliving their youths when they seek out their favorite memorable titles to share with their children