"It's in books that most of us learn how splendidly worth while life is." (Christopher Morley)
There have been many books that have had a great impact on me. One of the first was The Surprise Doll, a Wonder Book ("with washable cover,") that was published the year I was born. It cost 25¢ and I got it on a trip to the grocery store when I was five.
It's the story of a little girl named Mary whose father was a sea captain. Every time he went to a foreign land he brought her home a doll. The pictures showed dolls from different countries in traditional costumes. I loved them all, but especially Katrinka. She was from Holland and I decided I wanted to go there someday. I fantasized and pretended. I was inspired by a book.
The Weekly Reader book order provided me with other books I have never forgotten. I read Mama's Bank Account and The Story of Helen Keller in 3rd grade. My bedroom was downstairs by then, and I could turn on my lamp after hours, and read until I fell asleep. I remember reading Exodus in 7th grade, finishing it at 4:am, and pretending to be sick so I could stay home from school and re-read my favorite parts. I sat on our screened-in porch every night during the summer of 8th grade reading Gone With the Wind to the tune of crickets and moths humming around the light fixture.
We had a set of books called Books of Wonder that contained Greek myths. I sat on the heater vent in the winter and got lost in the stories of Pandora, and Icarus. I memorized long poems like Little Orphan Annie, and Casey at the Bat, some of Hiawatha, and Evangeline just because I read them so often. I loved the Little Maid books and learned about Maine and Quebec and "Old Vermont." Those books evoke memories of rainy Saturday afternoons. I could sit slumped in a chair, or under the table with a pillow and explore faraway places. I met extraordinary people, and visited different cultures and times. "My world began to expand very rapidly,...the reading habit had got me securely." (H. G. Wells)
My kids could stay up as late as they wanted if they were reading, and I would always buy them a book if they asked. It never seemed extravagant or wasteful. I wanted them to dream, imagine and be inspired. Books have always been beloved friends. I cannot imagine my life without them!
Are there books from your childhood that inspired you? Please share!