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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Reading Memories

bk_threelittlekittensMem­o­ries of my child­hood are imper­fect. Yours, too?

I don’t remem­ber hav­ing a lot of books as a child. I remem­ber The Poky Lit­tle Pup­py and anoth­er dog book (title unknown) and Three Lit­tle Kit­tens (per­haps a reminder to me to keep track of my mit­tens).

I remem­ber using the school library vora­cious­ly to read books. I had no access to the pub­lic library (too far away) so that school library was my life­line. And our librar­i­an under­stood what I was look­ing for before I did.

But back to the ques­tion of hav­ing books on our shelves. My moth­er had a Dou­ble­day Book Club sub­scrip­tion so a new book arrived each month for the adult read­er in our fam­i­ly. I saw To Kill a Mock­ing­bird, Catch­er in the Rye, The Light in the Piaz­za, and The Sun Also Ris­es added to the shelves, but oth­er than curios­i­ty, I felt no inter­est in those books.

My moth­er also sub­scribed to Reader’s Digest. We had a lot of music in our house in the form of LPs. Some of my favorites were those Read­ers Digest col­lec­tions, clas­sics, folk songs, Broad­way musi­cals. There was always music on the turntable. More impor­tant­ly, Reader’s Digest pub­lished sto­ry col­lec­tions and books for chil­dren.  

Yes­ter­day, I was sort­ing through the three box­es that remain of my child­hood toys and books. We’re down­siz­ing, so the tough deci­sions have to be made. Do I keep my hand pup­pets of Lamb Chop, Char­lie Horse, and Hush Pup­py or let them go?

Reader's Digest Treasury for Young ReadersI know I’ve gone through these box­es since I was a kid but every ten years or so I’m sur­prised all over again by what I played with as a child and cared enough to pack in a box for remem­brance.

I found two Reader’s Digest Trea­suries for Young Read­ers and the three-vol­ume Dou­ble­day Fam­i­ly Trea­sury of Children’s Sto­ries.  My moth­er also sub­scribed to the Reader’s Digest Best Loved Books for Young Read­ers. This is how I read Lor­na Doone and Ivan­hoe and Where the Red Fern Grows.

I was star­tled to real­ize that my famil­iar­i­ty with many of the clas­sic poems, sto­ries, and non­fic­tion arti­cles came from these books. I was intro­duced to Dorothy Can­field Fish­er and Eliz­a­beth Janet Gray and Dr. George Wash­ing­ton Carv­er and Jules Verne and The Odyssey and NASA’s work and more than a hun­dred more sto­ries and arti­cles. I’d like to believe that I’m an omniv­o­rous read­er today because of the wide vari­ety I encoun­tered in these books.

The Family Treasury of Children's BooksThere’s a pen­chant for every­thing new right now. Grand­par­ents pick up the lat­est Dora the Explor­er or Where’s Wal­do? book because they’ve heard of them and have a vague sense that kids like them. Or the book­store clerk sug­gests a Calde­cott or New­bery win­ner of recent vin­tage.

This is a plea to remem­ber those clas­sic books: the sto­ries, the folk tales, the fables, the poet­ry. Chil­dren will read a lot that you wouldn’t expect them to read, espe­cial­ly if you give it to them. Those clas­sics pro­vide a com­mon lan­guage for edu­cat­ed peo­ple.

Can’t find some­thing suit­able? Write to your favorite pub­lish­er and sug­gest that they print col­lec­tions of clas­sics, old and new. There are a few books pub­lished in the last 20 years that sort of approach these col­lec­tions pub­lished in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Here are a few:

Story Collections

Per­haps 50 years from now your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren will open their own box of child­hood mem­o­ries, being thank­ful that you gave them such a great gift.

Thanks, Mom. You gave me a gift that has sus­tained me all my life.

6 Responses to Reading Memories

  1. Debra Frasier July 9, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    Did you keep the pup­pets? If you are going to pick them send them to ME?! Those are he pup­pets my mom used to teach swim­ming to hun­dreds of kids!!

    • Vicki Palmquist July 12, 2016 at 5:25 am #

      The pup­pets are on their way to you, Debra. I’m SO glad you read this arti­cle and let me know.

  2. Anne Morrow July 12, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    What a great arti­cle! I’ve just returned from vis­it­ing a 9-year-old read­er (a rel­a­tive) who was devour­ing Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­to­ry. He’d love the Trea­sury you men­tioned, and his lit­tle broth­er the poet­ry book. Thanks for your mem­o­ries and ideas for birth­day books!

  3. Vicki Palmquist July 13, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    You’re wel­come, Anne. Those boys are lucky to have you think­ing about their read­ing lives. They’ll always remem­ber your gifts of books.

  4. David LaRochelle July 15, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    I, too, am grate­ful for my mother’s Dou­ble­day book club sub­scrip­tion which net­ted sev­er­al col­lec­tions of children’s sto­ries. That’s where I learned my nurs­ery rhymes (includ­ing some of the more obscure ones) and read such clas­sic tales as Carl Sandburg’s Huck­abuck Fam­i­ly. They still remain on my shelf.

    • Vicki Palmquist July 16, 2016 at 6:10 am #

      I hoped I’d hear from oth­ers who read these books, David. Every­one who read them had a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence because there were so many good sto­ries and poems to choose from.

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