In the October 2021 newsletter, I asked the readers for their favourite childhood memories involving reading.

Here were the responses:

Glenda: My favorites were: Little Britches by Ralph Moody; Robinson Crusoe by William Defoe; Swiss Family Robinson by Johan David Wyss; and of course, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Is it any wonder that I relate to and aspire to be like to Jack Reacher and all the loner “doers” that I read? I try to live my life my way, independently, even when it is counter to expectations of society. Reading was my escape as a child and can be even today.

Kenicia: My best childhood memory concerning reading was my first time through the Chronicles of Narnia. Each time I finished one, I rushed to find my mom, telling her we needed to go immediately to buy the next one. (I was totally enthralled with them.) Each time, about 10 minutes later, my mom would appear with the next book. It was the most incredible treat. I never caught on while reading the seven books that she had bought the whole set at the beginning. I was surprised and delighted with every new presentation of the next in the series.

I still tell my mom it was one of the very best gifts she ever surprised me with.

John: Along with Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, Famous Five and the (probably) lesser known Adventurous Four series some of my childhood reading memories include the Biggles series by Capt W.E. Johns and the Bobbsey Twins books.

I read all of the Seven and Five books and we still have sealed sets of these books ready for the grand children to read. I only remember reading one of the Adventurous Four stories and believe there were only three or four written.

Biggles books were really Boy’s Own Adventure type stories and good fun for 8 to 12 year olds, The Air Adventures of Biggles was a radio series which was produced in Australia up until 1954 but I do remember coming home from school in the late 50s – early 60s and listening to the show on the radio set in the living room. Pre-television times in our household!!

The Bobbsey Twins books were entirely different because they weren’t written by English authors nor set in England. The life styles of the Bobbsey children was, to me, so much different to those of the children in Enid Blyton’s books.

However, I cannot exclude Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn stories. Classics. Loved them so much I bought a copy of each whilst in St Louis, Missouri on a recent trip to the US. The mighty Mississippi was less than a mile from the bookshop.

Thanks for the chance to share my childhood reading memories and keep up the great work with Order of Books. I love receiving the emails from you.

Kacey: I loved reading and I loved climbing trees as a child. I had a special maple tree that had limbs that grew into a perfect place to lounge and read. It was probably 15 feet off the ground.
When I was 6 or 7, Mom bought me a set of books for Christmas. I still have them after 60 years. I hope my great grandkids will enjoy them as much as I did.
There are a lot more of these on ebay. I didn’t realize there were more. I may get them, someday.

Mary: I have a number of childhood memories regarding books, but this is one of my favorites:

As the youngest of 3 children, bedroom sets usually passed from my parents to my brothers
( 7 and 10 years older than me) and then to me.

One particular set skipped my brothers. It was a full or queen size bed with a light
built in the headboard.
I thought I was really smart by pulling my covers up over the light so I could
continue reading past my bedtime.

Needless to say, it didn’t work and I got caught! Didn’t get in trouble, but the light
had to be turned off. Don’t remember if I ever tried it again!

I still love reading and still try to read in bed. These days, I tend to start dozing off
way too soon!

Vicki: One of my most vivid memories was when I was around 7. I was reading one of Beverly Cleary’s books, I believe, when my mother told me to go wash dishes. I asked her if I could finish the chapter and she agreed I could. Then I read two chapters before I went to wash up. That explains why sometimes I read late into the night even when I know I have to get up early.

Monique: This probably dates me…but one of the things I remember about reading goes back to elementary school. Occasionally we would be given a colored two-sided paper order form with a brief write up and small pic of the book that could be ordered. The colored ink would rub off on your hands like newsprint. Reading was encouraged at home and I was always allowed to order from it if I found something that interested me. I would be so excited when the order came in.

I still love to read and always look forward to new books – just in different formats these days!

Chrissie: I was addicted to biographies in grade school. There was a series of them, they all had the same cover, typeface, etc. One publisher. I wanted to be everyone whose bio I read.
Also, every time I was sick, I would re-read Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. Somehow, it was comforting, and had enough suspense to keep me interested on the story instead of how rotten I was feeling.

Toby Tyler
James Otis

(Toby Tyler was initially serialized in Harper’s Young People in 1877 and then published as a book in 1881.) In 1959, at the age of 8, I was rushed to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto from my home in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada as I had suddenly gone blind. I had three major operations in two days. It took an eye surgeon to fly in from the United States and along with his Canadian protege to accomplish this.
I was to remain on the children’s ward for six months with both eyes completely bandaged. The doctors were unsure if their efforts would succeed. Because of this I begun the training to navigate without sight, read braille and the promise to train with a seeing eye dog. During those dark months a nurse began reading to me. The first book was Toby Tyler by James Otis. Ironically, it was about a foster child running away to the circus only to meet even crueler people. I will explain the word ‘ironically’ in just a second.

About five months in to my stay the doctors removed the bandages, as they felt enough healing had taken place. I will never forget the way I felt when I could distinguish between shadows. I will also never forget the first time I ever saw a television. It was Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and two nurses helped me to the common room and I witnessed the event on television. Eventually after several more surgeries I regained almost full sight in one eye.
Now the ‘ironically’ part. During the six months I was bedridden in Toronto I never heard from my family. It turns out a judge ruled that I could not go home until my mother reappeared, so I became a foster child. It was going to be many many years before I saw my three brothers again. But it was books, books and more books that saw me through that and every year of my life since. Books are my addiction. Books are my salvation. It was a kind-hearted nurse and James Otis’s Toby Tyler that kept my heart from hardening against it all. BOOKS ROCK!!!!

I want to give a huge shout-out to the CNIB. I came from a low income, neglectful home and it was the CNIB who paid for all of those surgeries. Because of the CNIB I did not spend my life blind. I am so grateful they were there for me and for all of the other children in dire circumstances. Thank you CNIB!!!

Ann: I too grew up on the Enid Blyton books from the local library – loved them! My pocket money/birthday money was always spent on books first. Spent time just about every night hiding under the blankets with a torch reading instead of sleeping. I remember moving straight from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie (which meant lots more reading by torch light). My favourite gift to receive has always been a book token (even today in my retirement). The pleasure of going into a book shop and slowly perusing the shelves deciding what to choose – will it be a favourite author? Or maybe trying someone new? The anticipation and expectation is always wonderful.

Vic: For me it was the Hardy boys. There was always one under the Christmas tree.

Teresa: My favorite memories of reading as a child/teenager is the Cherry Ames series that started with Cherry as a student nurse, and then going on through various careers as nurse and solving mysteries as well. Helen Wells wrote this series back in the late 50’s and the 60’s. It is one of my favorites, and books that I would like to own.

Sue: In response to childhood memories of reading, my father was a big reader. My mother got me interested in the Nancy Drew series, I read them all, along with the Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock mysteries (for young readers). I’d walk to our library every Saturday, I couldn’t wait. Now I read mainly mystery, spy, or action books. I still love to read!

Pat: I took piano lessons as a child (5-6years old) and my grandmother took me to them. After my lesson we go to lunch then to the library. She’d let me go to the children’s section while she went “upstairs” to the genealogy section as she was trying to trace back family history to our Native American heritage. This is where I first fell in love with books.

Then later as a young teen I’d go to the library alone almost every other week and come home with a pile of books. My parents would have to take the book away from me so I’d go to sleep otherwise I’d of read all night.

I still love books however I listen now more than read.

Maureen: I have 2 vivid memories involving reading. The first one involved a trip to the Library with my Grandmother and one of my sisters, just a couple of years older than me. As we left the Library, my sister had her head buried in a book and walked straight through a plate glass window. She had quite bad cuts to her legs and ended up being taken by ambulance to the hospital. This would be about 60 years ago.

The other memory is a good memory involving my Aunt. I was only young and loved the Biggles books. There was an ad in the Saturday paper advertising quite a large collection of them for sale secondhand. We didn’t have a car at the time so my aunt picked me up and took me to the other side of Sydney and bought them for me. I devoured them. I have always loved reading.

LIsa: One of my favorite childhood memories that involved books was when I was in Elementary school and the Book Mobile would come to our school. I just remember everyone being so excited and couldn’t wait for it to be there. They had lots of books that our school library didn’t have and many books were $1.00 or less. The book series Encyclopedia Brown were my favorite books back then and I always looked forward to seeing if the Book Mobile had one that I hadn’t read yet. What a great memory!!!

Kat: my childhood memory is going to the old library, the counter was so high. the wood floors made noise as you walked on them. it had a certain smell in there. i tried to check out a book but had to learn to write my name first so i could get my own library card. they had a contest in the summer, for every book you read (you had to tell the librarian what the book was about when you returned it) you got a train car (made of paper). it was put on top of the bookshelf and you added to it with each book. they knocked down that library and put a new one in , it was never the same.

Judy: Knowing my love of reading as a child, my parents had a “lights out” rule – but I had a flashlight under my blanket! If the book 📖 was really good, I might read all night.

My aunt was librarian in our small town and I was allowed to be her self-appointed assistant, checking in/out books, stamping them with library ID and dates, getting first pick at arriving new books. How happy I was.
Still reading lots of books (also audio books as I knit/crochet) but I no longer have to use a flashlight under my blanket!

Joy: I grew up reading all the Nancy Drew books. Loved that character.

John: My childhood spanned from the mid 50’s into the 60’s. I grew up on a farm which didn’t leave a lot of time for reading. However, I was given the book Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, as a present, that I still remember today. Maybe because the story line was set on a farm, but I remember reading and rereading that book and it became one of my favorites. I wish I had that book to read to my grandkids today.

Joan: Like you, my favourite author was Enid Blyton when I was growing
up, and in particular the Fives Books. I always had one in my
stocking at Christmas.

This month I have been reading all Nelson Demille’s books again.
I read Plum Island again and got hooked once more. Fortunately I
can’t remember the stories, so it’s been great to discover him all
over again.

Most of his books are over 700 pages long, so really good value.

Thank you again for the newsletter, and suggestions of good
books to read.

Jan: To answer your question about my childhood memories involving books, I enjoyed going to the local Library to get another book to read. Not only that, but I got a chance to work in libraries in High School and Jr. College, and continue to have a reverence for libraries and real books.

Such a wonderful question. I grew up in a small town pretty much remote from civilization. We didn’t have a library where I lived and the nearest library was at least 25 miles away. What we did have back then was a Bookmobile. A library on wheels with an archaic system of index cards and date stamps. The Bookmobile made its rounds to our elementary school every week. It was an exciting event when the Bookmobile arrived (though the driver/librarian was a surly old guy.) We got to choose books or request specific books to borrow. We were limited to 6 books at a time with a 14 day borrowing limit. The Bookmobile was huge back then, but I suppose that being a kindergartener or first grader made a big difference in my spatial perception.

Another favorite memory is getting a set of Nancy Drew books from my older brother. Our age difference is huge, and he was thoughtful enough to send me my first set of the Nancy Drew Mysteries which I immediately fell in love with. I haven’t had the opportunity to read all of the books in the series, but my introduction into the series really drew me in to loving the Mystery & Thriller genre.

Lastly, after a move to another small town, our school had a small library for the local students and community. The librarian there (Mrs. Tao) was an elderly lady and strict. But she used to host reading sessions featuring books from Beverly Clearly. It was a fun time as our class got to sit and listen to her narrate Ramona stories. I didn’t get to read all of the Ramona books then, but I’ve developed an appreciation for Clearly’s books in my older years and am enjoying them immensely – especially the audiobooks narrated by Stockard Channing.

That’s all for now.

Deborah: I’m not sure how old I was at the time, not very I’m sure, but I remember my mom taking me to the library with her. She got a lot of Perry Mason books by Erle Stanley Gardner. She let me read one of them after she’d finished it and I was immediately hooked on mysteries. Mom didn’t let me get my own library card for a long time. I don’t know if the library had an age limit or if mom just didn’t want to do it. Regardless, mom would check out 3 books for her and let me choose 3 for myself. Since I was hooked on mysteries by then, that’s what I got. I think some of the first books I got were the Boxcar kids series, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys. Plus, if we had enough time before the books were due back, I’d read some of the Perry Mason books. Even now, mom and I have the same taste in reading and share mystery books although they are all ebooks now.

Bev: In answer to what I remember reading as a child, I have two.

The first is Fury, the story of a magnificent black horse loyal to one person. As a horse lover who never managed to own one, many a summer was filled by riding at a friend’s horse farm in Ohio. Those are some of my most treasured memories.

The second is Nancy Drew books. My aunt and uncle had a bookcase filled with well-worn paperbacks that sported yellow and brittle pages. This love of Nancy Drew has continued into adulthood transferring over onto video games of the same name where we get to participate in finding the secret passages and solving the mystery. Keep ’em coming!

Amy: Loved the question about childhood memories. When I was in junior high, in the 70s, our school library had a special set of books behind the librarian’s desk. You had to have a signed permission from your parents to read them. My mom and dad knew how much I loved to read!! That was my introduction to Lord of the Flies. And a book called House of Stairs by William Sleator that I will never forget. Had to track it down recently and read it again!!

Dawn: Best childhood book memory…there are so many. Sitting in bed by the open window, breeze blowing in while I read Dennis the Mennis cartoons, and The Bobbsey Twins (oh how I wanted the whole series). But the most exciting was when I was allowed to join the Weekly Reader Book Club!! Two hard back books coming once a month!! I loved opening that box and sliding out the two surprise titles, hearing the first crack of that new book spine, and flipping the pages to smell the freshness of paper and ink! I’m 57 and still have those books!!!

Ginny: As a child, I always read books, but the first book I remember reading that hooked me was The Boxcar Children. I spent much of the rest of my childhood obsessively reading books (particularly books where the main character was adopted), just trying to find a book that was as good as that first one. (And there are an amazing lot of children’s books about adopted or otherwise displaced children: The Secret Garden, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan, Ballet Shoes, Kim, Oliver Twist, Dear Enemy, even Superman). For a long time my favorite books were Ready-Made Family by Frances Murphy and Three Without Fear by Robert Du Soe (both no longer in print).

I was fortunate in that my father had free access to the resource library in the education department of a major university, so I was allowed to bring home as many books as I wanted, as long as I didn’t injure them and I always returned them. We would go in the evening every few months, and I would pick out a huge stack of books, and then, the slide! This university department had placed long wooden boards on part of a fairly steep, very wide staircase, for the purpose of sliding heavy boxes down it easily – I would sit at the top of the boards and slide down. The only danger was a splinter!

The summer I was thirteen, my brothers and I spent one summer month in the St. Louis area with my mother’s sisters (she had three), while my parents traveled. One sister had children around my age, and they had the first ten of the original Hardy Boys books. My cousin closest to me in age kept getting mad at me because I just wanted to read them. I liked playing with her, but I just HAD to read those books before I left! And so, that’s what I did . . .

Ray: Was an avid reader of the Enid Blyton books but loved the “Just William” series by Richmal Crompton. There were 26 books in the series about an 11 year old who was mischievous in the extreme and I read the lot.

Patrice: I am 69 and I still frequently think back at the times I spent at the library in my hometown. When I was old enough to walk alone to the library one of the women in the children’s area told me about a little closet upstairs with books written for older children. That little closet became my sanctuary! I can’t remember all the books I absorbed but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of my favorite and I still read it every so often.

Lynn: I grew up in a reading household!! We were read to and gifted books from the time we were born!! We always read in bed before drifting off to sleep. My first love of detectives was Nancy Drew. I remember the anticipation of opening birthday and Christmas gifts, hoping for nothing more than to add to my collection (which is complete). And over 50 years later I’ll still grab an old Nancy Drew book and settle in for a nice read.

Chris: Hi, Graeme. Because you’d once mentioned how much you enjoyed the books of Enid Blyton when you were young, I got a chance to read some and discovered they were indeed wonderful. Very well written and fun to read. I can remember the thrill of getting my first library card at age eight or so–in fact, I still have it. Because the librarian often took the time to show me things she thought I’d enjoy, books became my companion for life. The Anne of Green Gables series of books were my lifeline during a chaotic period in my life. Also, I loved reading biographies (written for young readers) and once traded perfume I’d gotten during a school gift exchange for a book about famous nurses. I will never forget the look of incredulity on my classmate’s face–she couldn’t believe I would rather have a book versus some inexpensive kids’ perfume!

Barbara: As a child, I read all of the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books and then read them to my children later. I also read all of the Helen Macinnes syp/mystery books – this was my first introduction to mysteries. I then continued with all of the Robert Ludlum books. The original books were great and I have continued to read this type of story to this day.

Regina: My earliest memory is of my parents reading to me; a lot! So much so that I memorized my favorite book by the age of 2 and could “read” it out loud while turning the pages right on cue. The title was “The Lion and the Mouse”.
I remember the first book I read all on my own was the Disney version of Mary Poppins.
By jr. high school I spent most of my summers reading books from the library. That is when I discovered science fiction and espionage.
So parents, if you want your kids to be readers; read to them, read to them, read to them! 🙂

Neil: I remember getting and reading ” The adventures of Reddy Fox” by T. Burgess when I was was a child. Then I started to read the whole series. Probably the first time I ever sought out specific books. I remember how expensive books seemed to be at the department store in downtown Detroit, Hudsons where my mother would take me. She didn’t drive so it was taxi cab that she would get for us.

Kat: the first book i ever ‘read’ was 101 dalmatians (the original). i was under 5, im sure i just had it memorized. when i went to the library to get my own library card they had to have me sign my name which i didnt know how to do yet. we went home and my mom taught me and went back the next time and i was able to get my card. i was so proud! my mom just passed away and i think of her sharing her love of reading to me. its the only thing that kept me going all my life, the ability to escape my problems in books. i never thought to thank her for giving me the love of reading and its too late now.

AJ: My favorite childhood memory of reading was the excitement I felt at age 10, being walked upstairs by the librarian to the adult section because I had already read everything in the children’s section. That excitement of having thousands of books to choose from – I still get some of that when I open my kindle and find several new books I had pre-ordered and forgotten about.

Jessica: My grandparents pretty much raised me. I think I was four or five that my grandfather gave me a set of little books. One of the books was my favorite. It was about a bear who would eat blueberries. I guess since that book was my favorite, I would make up stories about bears when we would go on trips. I stopped reading for a while. My grandmother loved to read too. When I was around seven I started reading books again. Our library was within walking distance so my grandmother and I would walk to the little library. I ended up loving Nancy Drew books. I read a few Hardy Boys books as well.

Jennifer: I was a fairly precocious reader, so although I enjoyed many books at my age level, I read Jane Eyre for the first time in Grade 4. My 8th grade cousin was reading it for school so I decided to give it a try. It became one of my favorite novels and I re-read it every couple years for a long time. Eventually, this led directly to The Eyre Affair and my love of all things Thursday Next (and most things Jaspar Fforde).

Sue: I remember my dad telling me this story,
I went to school in kindergarten for my first day and I came home.
Dad asked, “how was your first day?”
I was mad cause they didn’t teach me to read and I didn’t want to go back to school cause they didn’t teach me.
He use to tell me this all the time, and he would laugh about.
My grandma bought me a collectors set of Nancy Drew’s for my 10th birthday. I read them all.
I use to read Stephen King books in my teenager years.
My favourite book and it took me years to find it again was in grade 7 it was called Beautiful Joe.
Both my daughters enjoy reading.
Thank you

Ann Marie: Like you I used to spend hours in the library looking for a book to read, I started with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Mystery’s just hooked me and I can’t seem to stay away from them. I do read other books but always go back to them. Thank you for the great news letter,

Stephanie: Reading was my passion from a very early age. When my mother would run her errands and visit my grandmother who lived across town from us, she would drop me at the local library where I would spend hours sitting on the floor reading. My initial interests were every book I could find about animals – especially dogs, horses and yes, wolves. By design, or happenstance, I found my way to mysteries like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and I was hooked. My tastes have changed over the years – not away from mysteries – rather navigating to better and better writers. Once you find an author who really knows how to write, doesn’t cut corners or ‘cheat’ the reader with simplistic denouements, who engages you, ou can’t go back. Reading, whatever your genre, whether fact or fiction, broadens not just your mind, but your expectations and even your experiences. Reading is one of the great joys in life and for me, it is always going to be a book I can hold in my hands, savor, and keep on my bookshelves.

Marie: I remember realizing that when I read a book I really liked, I could look up other books by that author, and automatically have a whole new set of books to read. The first such author was Mary Stolz. Her book that I remember the most was The Day and the Way We Met. I still sometimes look at author’s names ahead of the book title.

Penny: My mother was an avid reader so of course she passed that down to me! As a child she would take me to our local library all the time! The first series I read was of course the Nancy Drew Mysteries! At one time I owned the whole series but when I got older and on my own I gave them away! I really kick myself for that!
I remember reading for many hours as a child Now that I am retired that habit continues!!!

Paul: My earliest childhood memory is of reading my first book fiction book, THIS ISLAND EARTH. It was recommended by my older brother who then took me to see the movie. This sparked a life long love of reading, starting with all things science fiction. Now that I am retired I have expanded my love of reading to include over 40 authors, reading eight to ten books a month.

Pam: I was a huge library kid as well as soon as I was old enough to go by myself. In the summer I would check out a huge stack at least once a week. One of my favorite book memories from before then had to do with a book my mother bought for me to take to a birthday party. It was from the Happy Hollister series that I hadn’t read. I loved those books so I read it before my mother wrapped it. She was appalled that I did that but I didn’t see anything wrong – and tbh I still don’t. That has stuck in my head for many years.

Jenny: My absolute favorite childhood memory of all time is of riding my bike down a tree lined street, enjoying the sun and shade dappling the sidewalk and thinking “This day is perfect. It couldn’t be better”. Then I rode around a bend and quite unexpectedly and wondrously found – the library bookmoblie! Then the day was truly perfect.

Louis: Good afternoon, Graeme – I recall paying the librarian – in our small town – an overdue fine in pennies as an eighth grader and doing so with a bit of “larceny” in mind. I was a silly kid and irresponsible for sure. Recalling this wonderful woman now as well as many years ago (her husband was my school principal), I find her a positive influence for me in my love of books. She has been such for many years and I can imagine she is looking down at me and having a very hearty chuckle/laugh as I get books from Amazon, my library and used book stores.

Linda: My childhood was always full of books. I remember walking blocks to our mobile library bus in Des Moines, Iowa and sitting on the floor picking out piles of books to carry home. I went in the rain, snow and hot sun. My favorites were devouring all of the Marquerite Henry books. She wrote about horses mostly and I loved the stories. Then I started in on mystery books, then graduated to all of the Phyllis Whitney books I could get my hands on. My favorite pass time has always been reading. To be swept away in an adventure of a book is the most thrilling thing I can think of. This month has been full of reading more in the Linda Castillo series. It is excellent. I also read “Enemy at the Gates” , the latest Mitch Rapp book. I must say that it is one of my top 3 of this series. I stayed up reading until my eyes would not stay open anymore. It had the best plot line and so so believable. I read “False Witness” by Slaughter and even though she has always been one of my favorites, I found this book lacking. It had too much going on and too descriptive. Still it was a very good book, just too long and too much going on. Everyone enjoy the beginning of fall, my favorite time or year. I like the long dark nights, better for reading . Thanks for the news letter and ideas.

Lee: I was a very fortunate child! We didn’t have extras but we had enough and low and behold the library was just a short walk away. I grew up reading. At school you would find me at recess, on the step with a book not out with the other girls playing jacks or talking ‘boys’. My Friend Flicka, Lassy, all the animal stories. My first series believe it or not was Zane Grey. I had complete run of the library and came across the adult Western section. That’s all it took . After Zane, there was Max Brand (bad language but I read him anyway) Loved that old Carnegie Library! It took me to other countries and did my homework too.

Melinda: I barely can remember a time when I didn’t read. I can still see the first library, Clintonville branch in Columbus, Ohio, and the low shelf where I found books about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck! My mother always said I cried when I came home from Kindergarten and hadn’t learned to read. In second grade, our reader had the story of Billy Goat Gruff and I kept that book for years and am still upset it has been lost. But perhaps the best reading memories are of reading every night before going to sleep, a habit that continues to this day. Some night it is only five minutes, others a book can keep me awake for several hours.

Karen: My favorite childhood memory of reading? I remember in grade school we had library day once a week. My favorite day! We were allowed to check out 2 books. When I got home I would curl up on the couch and read the first one before dinner. My mom would wonder where I was and she would find me on couch engrossed in reading. I also remember begging to order books from Scholastic. I still have many of those books. They were passed down to my daughter and now my granddaughters.

Kelly: One other recommendation for you while I’m here! I read this series when I was a kid and absolutely loved it! I recently reread all of them and it was so much fun. It is the ” Indian In The Cupboard ” series. And I am so embarrassed but I can not remember the authors name, I’m so sorry. I know it is technically a children’s series but I myself am 39 and I still loved it just as much as when I was a kid, if not more so now that I’ve reread it from an adult perspective. If you haven’t read them and decide to try it, I wish you all the joy that a reader feels when they’ve found a great book! (You know that feeling 😊 I hope you have a great weekend! Thank you for your time! ~

Kathryn: Thanks to my mother’s love of reading, books have always been a part of my life, from her reading Green Eggs and Ham to me over and over and over to our weekly trips to the library for books that didn’t rhyme (LOL!). I grew up in a small town in New England, and our library was housed in what I remember as an old historic building. It was warm and dark and probably didn’t have that many books, but I fell in love with it from the moment I walked in the door. The very first book I remember falling in love with, and still love to this day, was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. I’d check it out every chance I got until I was old enough to buy my own copy. I may not read it as often as I did when I was young, but it will always be near and dear to my heart, and I think I’m going to go dig it out right now and read it again.

Katherine: My mother went shopping every Friday and once I had graduated from the Bobbsey Twins, it was on to Nancy Drew. She would buy a six pack of Hershey bars (one for each family member), and a package of Pep-O-Mint lifesavers that came in a roll. She would also bring home, in order, the Nancy Drews that I did not have. Immediately I would take my book, roll of lifesavers and chocolate bar and start reading and did not stop until I had finished. Even to this day, when I read a Nancy Drew, I need a roll of lifesavers!

Katy: My favorite memory of first reading was when I was 4-6 years old, sitting on the bed with my grandmother with her reading The Bumper Book stories to me. She must have read each of them maybe hundreds of times! And there was a lovely illustration of the alphabet, where I memorized it! Thanks for reminding me!

Joanne: I became a children’s librarian due to my early love of reading. My sister was 8 years older than me and read to me constantly. But my two favorite books were Ferdinand and Ping, both animal stories. I often read Ferdinand to my first grade classes. Despite the black and white pictures, they loved it. It is a book that truly stands the test of time. When my sister would read it to me, I always cried that Ferdinand would be stabbed with the sword. I guess I didn’t get that the story always ended the same way. I thought it might have a different ending. 😀
The best thing we can do for children is to read to them daily.

Joanna: I enjoyed reading the “Weekly Reader” which was full of different stories; the entire classroom was given this to read when in school.

The other books that were fun to read were stories about Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys. It was always a treat to get the next new book.

Faye: Childhood reading memories? Oh my. I was one of those little girls who was crazy about horses. I was raised by a single mother and we didn’t have money for a horse but that didn’t stop me from reading every book in the library I could find that included a horse in the story. I remember in the 6th grade we had a opportunity to order paperback books of our own. This was a revelation to me and a somewhat scandalous one at that. The only paperback books I had seen were on bookstands in drug stores and they all had lurid covers featuring buxom women, cowering in terror. I didn’t know there were other kinds of paperback books. I soon became the proud owner of my very own copy of Black Beauty. I also read book about dogs. Your Shadow the Sheepdog brought to mind my Lad, a Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. I read all of his dog books.

Speaking of horse books, when I was in Jr. High we had an assigned reading project. The book was The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. Imagine my delight when I saw that. A horse book I had apparently missed earlier…oh boy! Yeah…well. The horse died mid book and I swore off Steinbeck forever. I can still remember a line about the vulture’s head bobbing down and coming up with dark eye fluid dripping from his beak. Fortunately I outgrew my oath and discovered Steinbeck’s other works. To this day, East of Eden is among my top 4 favorites of all time. To this day, I have never reread The Red Pony..

Debbie: Favorite childhood memory of books: the local library in the town in which I grew up, Frankfort, IN, had a large section of children’s biographies of famous and not-so (Lucretia Mott was a favorite) famous Americans. I think there were about three shelves’ worth, and I read all of them when I was in the third grade.
Those books laid the foundation for my love of history and literature and for my profession, secondary teacher of US and European history and English. I still read biographies, and have about three shelves of them, although they are much larger than the ones that started it all.

Diana: Hi. My favorite was Heidi. I had a copy with beautiful color pictures. I must have read it a hundred times ! And my second favorites are The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. Thanks for the newsletter!

Christine: Hi Graeme,
I started my love of reading at an early age and always have a book(s) going no matter what. I think my very first favorite book as a child was The Littlest Angel — a Christmas story. I soon found I loved reading all the mystery type books starting with Nancy Drew because my older sister had a beautiful stenciled chest filled with Nancy Drew books and I was allowed to open up that “treasure chest” and pull out one great mystery after another. I wish I had a picture of that stenciled chest filled with all those books, but sadly both are long gone — just the wonderful memories remain. I have attached a photo asking my Dad to bring me a Nancy Drew book while staying with my Grandmother. I continued on with other mystery books such as Trixie Belden, The Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie, Victoria Holt. I enjoy other type books now, but I still love the Mystery type ones best.

Carol: My dad and I used to walk to the library every other Tuesday. When I was 7, and got my first library card, he told the librarians (who both lived on our street) to let me read anything I wanted, for which I will always be grateful. On the way home, we would stop at the drugstore and sit at the counter, where he let me get french fries and a coke. He was aghast that I would eat ketchup on my fries. My dad was a voracious reader and instilled the same appetites in me. One of my jobs at home was monthly dusting of our bookshelves. It would take me forever because, of course, I would read bits of the books as I took them down to dust. Best memories ever!

Andy: Oh Graeme, you got me with this month’s question. When you asked about early reading memories, I was immediately transported to the mid-1960’s in Dallas, Texas. I was sitting on the bunk bed I shared with my older brother, and my dad sat in a chair reading to us from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” by Ian Fleming. We took turns selecting titles for the couple years my parents read out loud to us, and I think I selected ol’ Chitty at least two or three times. I still can’t see the movie without being taken back and seeing my dad shamelessly acting out the scenes, still in his shirt and tie from the office.

When my dad wasn’t available, my mom would read to us. Often it was Lad of Sunnybank or Further Adventures of Lad by Albert Payson Terhune.

All of those titles (and others) contributed to my love of the printed word, but I think the one that got to me the most was ‘The Big Wave and Other Stories’ by Pearl S. Buck. I still remember the epiphany I had as a child when, in the closing paragraphs of the title story, Jiya threw open his window. I could almost smell the sea and hear the waves on the beach. Even more importantly, I still remember feeling his pride and bravery. That was my epiphany when I knew how the magic of stories and words could – and would – take me anywhere and everywhere. And all I had to do was open a book.

And yes, all four of the books I mentioned – the early printings my parents read from – have a special place on my shelf. They’re just sitting there, waiting for me like old friends to come back and spend a little more quality time with them.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane with your question!

Barbara: My family lived at the beach in NY from the time I was 5 until I was 12. Most homes were only occupied May thru September. We lived there year round so as a young child I had to occupy myself. On days that were rainy or cool I remember sitting on our porch reading books. To this very day, my favorite place to read is on my balcony of my 29th floor apartment and when it rains I find it brings back those childhood days. I don’t know why but sitting outside reading is my favorite place.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Favourite Childhood Reading Memories

2 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Favourite Childhood Reading Memories”

  1. Mary Ann Bonner: 3 years ago

    I guess I missed the question about memories of reading as a youth. So here is my memory of my young reader days. We had a library in my town and I lived close enough to walk to it. I loved biographies and mostly any thing with a good story. The one story I remember was the book “Jessica’s Island”. And why I remembered that one, I don’t know. I didn’t read the Nancy Drew series that everyone mentioned and I don’t know why not. But I read the Trixie Beldon series and had saved those books, which I gave to my granddaughter. In sixth grade, if the class “behaved” themselves, the teacher would read a chapter out of the “Anne of Green Gables” book. Many years later I found the series at a garage sale and they were really old books. I did have to buy the first book of the series though. But I bought them and read all of them as an adult. Reading has always been my favorite relaxation go to. I just wish the Kindle I use had an alarm with it to shut off the book when it is a good time for me to end my day.
    Thanks for this way of finding new authors and books to read. I appreciate your hard work putting together the newsletter.


    • Graeme: 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, I loved this 🙂


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