Thursday, November 28, 2013

Remembering Old Friends: Children's Books

Who read to you, when you were little?

I hope someone read aloud to you.  If they did, it's probably why you're a reader today.

My mother was not just a good reader-aloud, she was a great reader-aloud.  She was a child of the radio era, when technology was still pretty new and imagination was triggered by the spoken word.

When Mom read aloud to us, she did all the voices of the characters in the story.  And when I was old enough to read the book for myself, I read my favorite books over.  And over.  And over.  And over again, until I had whole passages memorized.

That's what I remembered when I found the big box of old children's books at the estate sale the other day.

I took one look at the cover of this book and heard the familiar words inside my head:  

"...Penny and Lenny and Salter and Pepper, Jolly and Rolly and Patch and Latch.... Spot and Dot and Blob [I always felt sorry for a puppy called "Blob"] and Blot and Blackie and Whitey and -- where's Lucky?"

I flipped the book open:


I will not tell you how many years it had been since I'd seen the pages of this book, my friends.  Let's just say that The Beatles were probably on The Ed Sullivan Show in our living room at the time.  

And yet as soon as I saw this Little Golden Book, I recalled some of the text almost word for word.  

Bonding with Little Golden Books as a small child helped foster my lifelong love of literature.  When I was a little older, I read and enjoyed the original book The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Then as a teenager, I read Smith's classic novel I Capture the Castle.  

You see?  One good book leads to another.

I dug excitedly through the rest of the children's books at the estate sale and found some more that I'd once owned but had completely forgotten about -- until I saw them again.  I brought them home too.

A young adult relative was recently lamenting having to be a "grownup" at Christmastime.  My advice to him, as it is to you, is yes -- do grow up.  But cherish your good memories of childhood.  And when you have the chance, buy "new" old copies of the books from your childhood -- and read them again.  As C.S. Lewis wrote:

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

Then share your old books with another child, young or old.

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