Seeing the reading choices being made by my granddaughters here in Seattle, I am prompted to try to remember what I was reading when I was growing up. That was a long time ago. I was born in 1936 and my early book memories were of large prize winning books which were read to me – A Child’s Garden of Verses, Babar the Elephant, Make Way for Ducklings, a few examples. Each year I was also given a subscription to Jack and Jill Magazine and I particularly remember the Baba Yaga scary witch stories. In our family there was a sort of senior aunt who was known as Auntie. Auntie always gave me a book for Christmas and Birthday – I’m sure it was Auntie, my maternal grandfather’s sister, Eunice Augusta Friend, who gave me the beautiful children’s books and the magazine subscription.
At some point there must have been a transition to books which I could read on my own. In first grade we had Dick and Jane and from there my subconscious will have to be at work. Granddaughter Caitlin is in Kindergarten and during this past week she has made a break through and is now able to read Level 1 Beginning to Read books with a minimum of help. Her reading this morning was Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s Amazing Story by Simon Beecroft. This is a far cry from Dick and Jane!
Moving beyond Dick and Jane, The Bobbsey Twins were favourites of some people but I never took to those. Stuart Little by E.B. White, which I think granddaughter Ashley can read in 2nd grade, was read to us as a family by my father. My older sisters were keen on mystery stories – one sister liked Judy Bolton, the other sister preferred Nancy Drew. And my older brother had a lot of Tarzan books. Their books were readily at hand so I slowly went through their collections. We also had a big collection of the Big Little Books, which are no longer published today. I wonder if the Big Little Books were a product of war time rationing.