Monday, October 19, 2009

Will do Math for Books - Memories of Me Monday

My three favorite books of all-time:  "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee, "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O'Dell, and "The Giver," by Lois Lowrey (not sure why "The Giver" didn't make it into the photo - must've been a technical difficulty because of course I own {multiple copies of} the book).

TODAY'S MEMORY JOGGER: "What are your favorite books?  Describe the best book you have ever read, and also the worst book."

Here are more of my faves from when I was a kid:

Most of these books I've read multiple times; many of them I still re-read every few years.  For a lot of them I have some very specific memories.

When I was in the 5th & 6th grades the Bookmobile used to come to my elementary school every other week.  Not sure why; after all, we did have a school library, but perhaps it carried books that our library didn't.  At any rate, I loved climbing aboard the library-on-wheels and choosing a book from amongst its shelves.  That's where I first found "Brighty of the Grand Canyon," by Marguerite Henry.  She was a favorite author already since she wrote the "Misty of Chincoteague" and that whole series of stories about the famed ponies on Chincoteague Island.  Brighty was not a pony, but a winsome and dear little burro who lived in the Grand Canyon.

I first read "Where the Red Fern Grows," by Wilson Rawls around the age of 10 or 11.  If you've never read this book, stop reading this blog, and go get it!  It's the most incredibly fascinating and emotional story of a boy and his two hound dogs, and it's absolutely unforgettable.  When I was around 14 my mom read the book to my brothers and sisters and me, one chapter at a time, every Monday evening for Family Night.  At that time we ranged in age from 7 to 15 but every one of us was mesmerized by the story, and looked forward to that chapter all week long.  Even though I had already read the book, it was a totally different experience to hear it read aloud. Even my strong and stoic mom could barely make it through the last, and most emotional, chapter.  There was not a dry eye in the room that evening!  Both my mom and dad had read to me since I was a baby, but this particular experience, of hearing "Where the Red Fern Grows" read to the whole family, is probably the biggest reason I became a read-aloud mom to my own kids.

Have you figured out yet that I LOVE to read?  I can't remember a time when I didn't love to read.  I know that I learned to read quickly; I'm pretty sure I already knew a lot of words before I even started kindergarten, and in those days reading was not taught until 1st grade.  I had good examples to follow; my mom and dad both read, and so did my older brother, Mike.  It was also a way for a very shy child to inhabit many different worlds and cultures, have incredible adventures and, best of all, imagine herself the heroine of the stories!

In my family we kids always got books for Christmas and birthdays.  Even now it's just not Christmas without a new book to crack open during the quiet Christmas day afternoon following the high-pitched & noisy excitement of Christmas morning. I grew to love rainy days, and cold winter days (especially snow days in Minnesota when schools would be closed) because it meant I could curl up in a favorite reading spot and indulge in my favorite activity all day long if I wanted.

In elementary school we students could order books via the Scholastic Book Club (through our school) for between 45 cents and $1.25 or so.  My mom would give me a few dollars to spend and I would write down the books I wanted from the books listed on the pamphlet, then calculate and re-calculate the prices to get the most books for the money. Those were probably some of the few times I did math willingly!

In the 60's and early 70's, in southern California, most cities had what were called "neighborhood branches" of the public library.  These were small branches situated right in housing developments and neighborhoods, making it easy for people to utilize them simply by walking or biking a few blocks.  What a shame they are for the most part a thing of the past.  I can't even begin to imagine how many times I either walked or rode my bike to one of those little branches.  My friend, Judy, and I would ride our bikes and come back with our bike baskets full to the brim with books.  I often couldn't decide which book to read first so I'd put them in a stack, read Chapter One of the book on top, then Chapter One of the next book, and so on down the stack.  Then I'd start at the top again and read Chapter Two of each book!

In Junior High "Gone With the Wind," by Margaret Mitchell was THE book to read amongst the girls.  I bought a copy with my allowance and carried it from class to class the entire school day just so I could read a paragraph or two on my way from one class to another.  When I finished it I immediately turned back to Page One and started over, reading it completely through a second time!

Just writing about the books I loved as a child makes me want to re-read them yet again.  Maybe I will!

MEMORY JOGGER FOR NEXT WEEK:  "What do you remember about shopping with your mother?  What particular store did you frequent?  What was your favorite store?  Did you shop differently with your mom than with your friends?"

Are you writing down your own memories?  Share with us -- if you like!

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