When you were a child

“We read to know we are not alone.” - C.S. Lewis

Dear lovely reader,

I have to say — the last letter is my favorite. Not because of what I wrote, but because of what you wrote.

From Florida to Illinois, Vermont to Oregon, you all shared such wonderful memories from your childhood about books.  Some of the titles you discussed, I remember fondly as well. A Wrinkle in Time, Ramona, Charlotte’s Web, Amelia Bedelia, and Old Yeller. Two of you mentioned Moomintroll, so now I’m on a mission to find it.  Others, like The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and Big Joe’s Trailer Truck, have such evocative titles that I feel like I must have read them when I was a little girl.

I think what touched me most about your comments is how vivid these books still are to all of you. And just as important were the parents, siblings, and librarians who shared them. It made me realize that the books I now read with my daughters might someday be these kinds of touchstones for them as adults.

Over the years, I’ve come across a prayer that is found in different versions in many cultures. To assist in feeling love and kindness toward other people, you remember that they were once children and you picture them as they would have been at a young, tender age. Somehow, having read your comments, I am able to picture each of you, a small child with a big, exciting book propped open. And I am left heart-warmed and grateful, for books and for all of you.





Books that stay with us for a lifetime

Dear nostalgic reader,

Once a year, our book club reads a children’s book and our young daughters and sons come to the discussion. In the past, we’ve read Charlotte’s Web, Little House in the Big Woods, Anne of Green Gables. This time we read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and met over the weekend to discuss it. As we nibbled on apples with caramel dip and chocolate brownies, we talked about the story. Several of us, including the younger readers, found the repetitive, simple storytelling a little aggravating. But we also liked the humor and adventures that were largely left out of the movie version.

My mom then said she vividly remembers being maybe five years old and my grandmother reading the Oz books to her. She described the delicious anticipation and excitement of discovering them for the first time.

Another book club member then said she had a favorite series of books when she was a child, and it involved a space ship, but she hadn’t been able to find them as an adult. Then when she was at the public library recently, she spotted them on the shelf.

“Now I want to buy them all,” she said.

It happens all the time at the bookstore — we’ll be sorting through used books people have brought in for credit, and one of us will spot a book from our childhood. It doesn’t matter how tattered and worn it is, we have to have it.

The Tawny Scrawny Lion is the picture book that still gives me warm, happy feelings. And The Boxcar Children is the first one I remember reading on my own and having that certain sensation that comes with reading a good book — a sense that you want to crawl into its pages, or that you already have and you never want to leave.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The Bobbsey Twins. Choose-your-own-adventures. What was the book from your childhood that has stayed with you all these years? Do you have a copy on your shelf?



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