Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Thank you so much for your kind words. They really helped me feel better. Although the bronchitis still lingers, I do feel more together. I go back tomorrow for one session of biofeedback and will approach it with as much relaxation and calm as I can pry out of my tortured soul.

I need to change the subject.


I remember my first set of books. It was Dr. Seuss and it came by mail, piece by piece. Opening the first installment and each thereafter, I was beside myself with excitement, perhaps four years old. Are You My Mother? was the first that came and I felt for that poor little bird wandering around. That bird and I still have a lot in common.

Around that time, my very favorite story was in a collection of volumes of children's classics that my parents had purchased. I referred to the story as Water Babies and always thought it wasn't the real title, but I learn now that apparently it is close. It is equated to Peter Pan in era and topic. I think we must have read the abridged version, as we'd read the whole piece over a few nights - over and over.

I don't remember being an avid book reader until later. The years in between, I loved coloring in coloring books, creating garish costumes on the pages. My son is the opposite; he has never cared for coloring books, always drawing and coloring his own creations. I am still working on his love of books in general.

When I was about 13, ca 1975, I had the luck of living in a neighborhood where the bookmobile parked right outside my house each week. I loaded up. My parents hearts swelled with the sheer numbers of thick books I was going through each week. I don't think it ever occurred to them that historical fiction like Jean Plaidy is very soft porn for the adult and delightfully hard porn for the young teen. I was captivated.

All through my adulthood, I collected children's books, even well before the prospect of me having any even occurred to me. My son was born to a decent library. That library gets added to often.

A couple years ago, I stumbled upon a $2 sale of Great Illustrated Classics and loaded up on 30-40 of them. Since then, I've added a few more titles. I decided at the very least that I would read them and have done so with Oliver Twist and The Portrait of Dorian Gray. I have cajoled my son to read a few on his own - Swiss Family Robinson and part of Frankenstein. He floundered a bit.

I decided that the exposure to the (condensed and watered down) literature is more important than him reading it himself, so we began reading together, which shifted to me reading to him. Not a bad gig. We finished Hans Brinker last week and are working on Heidi now. They are two of my all time favorite stories/movies from childhood. I remember my mother and sister crying to the Heidi movie each time it came on, as I acted all stoic like I wasn't moved. Me acting unemotional - who knew?

I think we'll do either Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland next. Or perhaps Peter Pan or Robin Hood or Huck Finn. I'm not going to push Little Women or Pride and Prejudice just yet.

Growing up, I just didn't choose to read classics on my own and fudged on them through HS and college. I am making up for lost time reading with my son, hoping it makes a grand impression on him.

What classics did you enjoy as a child? What do you wish you'd read?


DD said...

I read too many romance novels and not enough "classics" as I can't recall any true favorites.

BTW, I see me over there on mybloglog!

Yes, a change of subject is always good.

Anonymous said...

Childrens classics? Erm, the usual, I guess, Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, The Dark Is Rising, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Ramona books and Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, and of course, Black Beauty and Black Gold and Misty of Chincoteague.

I didn't 'discover' adult classics until I was in High School, wandering the stacks of our library. That's when I fell in love with Kipling's poetry, the same for Sir Walter Scott (Marmion! Lady of the Lake!), Jane Eyre (which I'm just about to reread, having bought the Zelah Clarke/Timothy Dalton BBC tv serial the other week).

I was one of those kids who hated A Wrinkle In Time and the Narnia books, though.

Cricket said...

My mother reads romance novels - she's avid about it - and I can't fathom how the industry keeps her in books year after year.

I loved Nancy Drew! And I also read a similar series, Trixie Beldon. I read Hardy Boys, too, but mostly the girls.

One story I remember my 2nd grade teacher reading us is the Boxcar Kids. Glad for the reminder so I can work on that with my kid.

I've never liked fantasy stuff - forced down LOTR three years ago on principle.

Well-heeled mom said...

I LOVED the Little House series.

Cricket said...

WHM, you're exactly right. Great stories.

Forgot about The Littles; I bought that series gradually through the classroom Scholastic orders.

Anonymous said...

I had all the Illustrated Classics too..loved them. My favorite was a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court...although I haven't read it in probably 15 years.

Thalia said...

If you're trying to get your son really into books, you might try Biggles. Don't know if they publish it in the US but it's a series about a flying ace in WWII. It's the only thing my brother ever really enjoyed reading, you son is about the right age right now for it.