A reading meme

This is a meme from Kate at Kate’s Book Blog:

1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?

To tell you the truth, I don’t remember. I do know it was before kindergarten. My mother said she put “rag books” (books made of cloth) in our cribs. I don’t recall my parents ever reading nighttime stories to us, though.

2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?

My mother bought me a copy of Little Women at Woolworth’s. It turned out to be abridged, but I loved it anyway. That was probably my first “very own” book.

My brothers and sister and I shared Dr. Seuss books: Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. We also owned a copy of Are you my mother? by P.D. Eastman, which I loved.

On Saturdays in the summer, my dad used to drive us to the library. While we prowled inside, he sat in the car listening to baseball games on the radio. I can’t remember exactly which was which anymore, but I’m sure back then I borrowed more than I owned. Some favorite titles that float to my head are Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, the All-of-a-Kind Family series and the Betsy-Tacy books.

(By the way, here is an NY Times article that you might want to check out, Louisa May Alcott’s American Girls.)

3. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?

Cannot remember, honestly. Quite possibly a Nancy Drew book, though.

4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?

Little Women, Gone with the Wind, All-of-a-Kind Family, A Little Princess, Witch of Blackbird Pond, Nancy Drew.

5. What’s the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?

Gone with the Wind. I was probably in the 10-12 range, and I read it in one weekend.

6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?

I think as an adult I can better appreciate classics like Alice in Wonderland, a tale I never warmed up to, and the Chronicles of Narnia, though I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe even as a child. I’d like to try L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, a book I passed by simply because the film was so marvelous.

Bonus Question: Are there books you remember reading as a child that you either can’t find now or can’t remember the title?

I added this, because it is a question that’s been nagging at me lately. There are two books I can remember reading but can’t lay my hands on. Maybe one of you will remember reading it, too.

One was a book about a family that lived in a reconverted streetcar. The father was a streetcar driver, and I think streetcars were being replaced by autos. So, they drove the streetcar to the end of the line and lived in it. The book even had a layout of the interior of the streetcar.

The other book was about a Christmas tree that didn’t get bought for the holidays because it was so little. As I recall, the tree got tossed into a scrap heap and became all yellowed and dried out. But it never got over its desire to fulfill its destiny. Finally, someone pulled it out of the heap and used it as a laundry pole. And the tree was so happy, doing something useful and being able to stand on a hill in the breeze. That story made me cry, but I cannot find it. I thought it was called The Littlest Christmas Tree. There seems to be a rip-off book recently released under that title, where the tree wants to be a Christmas tree but actually starts appreciating just being in nature. Bah, humbug. Maybe the original story is too tough for kids today!

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7 Responses to A reading meme

  1. Dorothy W. says:

    I’ll be doing this meme soon — I think a lot of the books I mention will be the same as yours.

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  2. Sean Carter says:

    This meme sounds so interesting!! May be I would like do some thing like this too!! I have always been intrigued and excited with every new book I have recieved as a present since childhood…so books always had a special significance and influence on my upbringing!!

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  3. Danielle says:

    Is the book you are thinking of but can’t remember The Box Car Children? I remember my teacher reading that to us in elementary school–loved it!!! I wish I could remember more of the books I read when I was little. I love this meme as I read everyone’s answers it brings to mind other books I did read—oh yeah, I read that one, too! There are too many I didn’t read, though….

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  4. LK says:

    Danielle, thanks, you actually got me thinking and I remembered it: It’s Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer. Here is a comment from Amazon.com:This is a warm tale of a family facing hard times in the immediate post WW II era, when the face of American life was changing. Pa, a trolley car driver, learns that his job will be lost and his beloved trolley car replaced by a smelly old bus. Rather than cave to the bus trend, he and his family (and their new friend, Mr Jefferson) drive the trolley to the end of the line and build an idyllic life in the country, farming and raising lots of livestock. Whew, at least I know I have a few good memory cells kicking around!

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  5. Stefanie says:

    I owned The Witch of Blackbird Pond and loved it! I even gave a copy of it to my niece when she was the right age for it.

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  6. Kailana says:

    The second book you are wondering about is a fairy tale. I can’t remember who wrote it, but it is either the Grimm’s or Hans Christian Andersen. I don’t remember a laundry pole in that version, though. Like many fairy tales, though, it has likely been rewritten many times. I remember a picture book I had about the same story.

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  7. sfp says:

    I convinced my son to read Gone With the Wind earlier this year and he read it very slowly over the course of several weeks, stopping frequently to say, “This is trash! Scarlett is so stupid!”I’m glad to find another read-it-in-one weekend reader because his approach drove me crazy!

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