“Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.” — Arnold Lobel
Some of my earliest memories include getting my first library card. Our local branch, in a strip mall, looked like a cute little shop. At four, I didn’t understand the concept of borrowing books. I just knew I’d found a lot of fun and colorful stories. By the time we left the parking lot, I asked for more books because I’d already finished the stack we’d just gotten. You might say I read early and often.
While I took home “Dick and Jane” readers as homework, I wanted “Gentle Ben” for fun. Many books in my school library were set in the 1950s so I talked more like my parents generation than my own. This was before “Happy Days” nostalgia hit so everyone thought I was pretty strange.
Favored in Junior High
My school librarian recommended the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries. Set in the 1950s, the stories followed cool teenage detectives. I loved Nancy’s relationships with her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, and good friends, Bess and George. Best of all, Nancy’s titian hair (a shade of red), sounded very close to my own strawberry-blonde. Frank and Joe Hardy ran around without much adult supervision aside from brief interactions with their father, Fenton, or their Aunt Gertrude. The final chapters of each book almost always ended in mortal peril so I kept turning pages until the heroes or heroine escaped. My favorites in these series would have been “The Phantom of Pine Hill” (Nancy Drew) and “While the Clock Ticked” (The Hardy Boys).
High School Treasures
My reading became even more eclectic as I progressed through public school. One series by Rosamond du Jardin, also set in the 1950s of course, followed the exploits of twin sisters Pam and Penny Howard. The stories progressed from “Double Date” to “Double Wedding” with all kinds of interesting tales in between. While working through the Howard Twins series, I also continued reading any new Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries that came my way.
All of the books I’ve mentioned here bring back wonderful memories of childhood days (and nights) spent curled up with a good book. Having my own children, and now grandchildren, have taken me back to the early days of reading Dr. Seuss or other easy readers. We’ve also shared a lot of evenings with the Harry Potter over the past few years.
My adult reading continues to be pretty eclectic; everything from the latest romances to classic sci-fi, biographies/autobiographies, and historical fiction. While I enjoy reading just as much as ever, nothing these days brings me quite the same feeling as curling up with one of my favorite childhood reads.
What were your childhood favorites? Did anything mentioned here bring back fond memories for you?