As my 65th birthday approaches, I have been spending some time strolling down memory lane. People, places and events that have had an effect on my life are numerous.
Some of my sweetest memories come from the love of books/literature instilled in me as a child. We were a family of readers; six children, two parents with books, magazines and newspapers all through the house.
Books were given as gifts. My siblings and I anticipated the arrival of our Christmas gifts from an aunt who lived in New York City. She always sent books. How did she know what we would like? Perhaps a loving parent clued her in?
Weekly visits to the county bookmobile were a treat. We were in seventh heaven when a branch library was built within walking distance of our home.
As a parent, I often read some of my favorite childhood books to my own children. Now that I am a grandparent, I have shared with my granddaughters some of those same books.
“Story About Ping” by Marjorie Flack and illustration by Kurt Wiese was published in 1933. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”
This is a delightful little book about a duck named Ping and his mother and his father and two sisters and three brothers and 11 aunts and seven uncles and 42 cousins.
They live together on a boat with two wise eyes on the Yangtze River. One day Ping gets separated from his family. He ends up being reunited with them due to the actions of a little boat boy. I loved the book’s illustrations and being introduced to a different culture.
“Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1949. This delightful tale of Sal and her mom and their blueberry-picking trip ends up with mistaken mom identity between Sal and a baby bear. All ends well and along the way Sal enjoys a lot of blueberries.
As a child, I think I was drawn to the simple dark blue line and block print/drawings by the author. “One Morning in Maine,” also by McCloskey, is a companion book to this title.
Caps and monkeys make a perfect mix in the 1940 Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Based on a folktale, the story centers on a cap salesman who wears his entire stock on his head. “Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!” he chants as he peddles his wares from town to town. Can you imagine what happens when the salesman takes a nap and the monkeys spy all the hats in various colors?
The book that was read to me the most at bedtime and that I eventually could read on my own was “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. The adventures of Pooh and friends delighted me. I could picture myself playing Pooh Sticks, hanging out with that sad-sack Eeyore and thought Roo was the cutest thing ever. Drifting off to sleep, I would often imagine the 100-Acre Wood and what it would be like to live there, too.
I hope you also have fond memories of your childhood with wonderful books.
Mary Clare Speckner is community services coordinator at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org