Friday, February 12, 2010

The Early Years As A Reader: What Impressed You, What Distressed You?

I received some feedback (yes, yes, yes, please keep it coming) that my first entry was a bit difficult to read. The blog-reader in question stated we needed more contrast on the screen, so here's an attempt to provide what was requested.

So, now, what books merit your "fave raves"? I must confess to you, despite my life-long love of books, I read some really dreary things during my childhood. I attended a Catholic grammar school from first through eighth grades. I remember the school library, which was located in the basement, as being filled with mostly biographies of saints. While reading something serious (and occasionally inspirational) is certainly necessary to the development of a young mind (and soul), some of these books were truly gruesome (lives of martyrs, for example), others filled me with a spiritual despair of never living up the high standards the saints set forth as examples.

One book I remember devouring from my childhood, however, was Irene Hunt's tome called Up A Road Slowly. The narrator is a young girl, the youngest child in her family of three children, who has lost her mother to an illness. Because her professor-father is too preoccupied with his career, she and her brother are sent off to live with an aunt who is a schoolteacher. The book chronicles her years from the ages of 7 until she's about 17, and as a ten year-old reader, I was utterly fascinated. This book also managed to fit in pertinent quotations of poetry (specifically Sara Teasdale) that bewitched me from the moment I saw them on the printed page.

From earlier in childhood, I cannot remember a book that impressed me quite as favorably as the book I've cited. But what about you? My BFF and I met in high school. Her late mother used to joke about how my BFF would check her favorite book out of the library over and over, during a particular point in her childhood. So again, what about you? Which book first made a long-lasting, great impression on you?


  1. Great idea for a blog...and wonderful topic.

    I remember reading books as a huge part of my childhood, and most of it was not related to school. My sister and I had library cards from an early age, and while I remember playing with neighborhood kids outside quite a bit, I think I probably spent just as many hours reading. Once I discovered an author, I would devour everything they published. I was equally enthralled by Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and Little Men, as I was by Caroline Keene's Nancy Drew series. Marguerite Henry's books about the ponies of Chincoteague got me started on many books about horses (although my chances of ever having a horse or pony were quite remote!). But that really only explains how big a part of "entertainment" books were to me as a child.

    As for the first book I remember having a profound impact on me, it has to be Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. I was born after WWII, but my father and uncle had both served, and my grandma kept their service medals and ribbons displayed in her glass-enclosed curio cabinet. As TV became a part of our lives, so did movies - and there were lots of WWII movies on TV. But reading that moving diary (and I do remember that I read it way before I ever saw the movie) brought a perspective of history into my life that I could relate to quite strongly. It made something - War - that (as it was well over) had been portrayed as glorious and valiant and good guys versus bad guys, into something that was terrifying and unfair and personal. It wasn't about just soldiers in uniforms and guns and battles. It was about families and neighbors and little girls like me.

  2. My earliest book memories ( aside from being read to by a parent or grandparent) were Summer vacation, when Mom would take me to the library, then the supermarket, then home for lunch and then to spend the rest of the day, deep in the world of the book I got at the Library.

    Now looking back, I can't remember what age and what book made the most impressions on me.
    It was the entire package, Summertime, lying on the bed or in a hammock and being lost in another world.

    I do know that I read Little Women, everything by Marguerite Henry ( King of the Wind) .. I was a horse fanatic ... and I do remember reading Forever Amber . Ha ! I don't know how I got that one past my mother.

    I followed her example and have 2 children who bury themselves in books at any opportunity.