Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oma's Library

"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!


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Nimmy said...

From the Mixedup Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is my favorite children's novel. I loved the idea of sleeping over in a museum. I still fantasize about that.

When I lived in England as a little girl I was introduced to works of Roald Dahl. The young characters in crazy worlds and crazy situations helped me cope with the foreign world I found myself in. I still see the BFG as a great friend.

Missy said...

I also had the wonder books--I loved them! My favorite was a large collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales--it had all the classics, plus a few lesser known ones as well. I still have it packed in a box at my mom's house.

Also Nimmy--the Field Museum in Chicago does sleep over nights. Matt is just now old enough to do it and it's supposed to be very cool. Maybe other museums do it too!

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

I was a huge fan of Beverly Cleary and read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on. I also loved the Diary of Anne Frank. I had forgotten The Mixed Up Files one - I'll have to read that to my kids.

I recently read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to my kids. Bawled my eyes out. It is just beautiful - I hadn't read it in years and it just touched my heart!

mama jo said...

is that the name of that book..the doll book? i loved that book also and always looked for of my favs and still is was "shadow castle", my kids loved it also..i remember polly reading to me from "the golden book of fairytales"..i finally found that a few years ago...also "little women" and my all time fav "anne of green gables" i just loved anne...reading to me has always been not just an escape but a way to see the world, a history lesson...even in romance novels you learn history, a way to meet new people...from your chair, bed or couch...

marta said...

mom, luckily you've passed on this gene. the following were/are my faves:
babysitter club series
american doll series
wacky wednesday
gone with the wind
girl with a pearl earring
fortune's rocks

Robin said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! I have visited yours a few times and think it's great. These are my favorite books from childhood:
Sleepover Friends series
Babysitters Club series
A Little Princess
The Secret Garden
The Dark is Rising
The Witch of Blackbird Pond

gab said...

Mom, You turned me into a bookworm from conception!!! I still remember you reading me the Wizard of Oz while all the little kids slept in the West Jordan house. We read and read, then went to the kitchen for a snack and then went back to read more! I was HOOKED! I loved the big book of fairy tales with all the beautiful pictures, too!

Kay Dennison said...

I was a mom like you, Marty. The Dynamic Duo learned early that if they asked for a toy, Mom could say no quickly but books were a shoo in! Both are inveterate readers. As to favorites -- there isn't room for all of them. I don't think I ever read a book I didn't like.

MissKris said...

The "Betsy-Tacy" books by Maud Hart Lovelace were undoubtedly some of my favorite little girl books of all time. I read "Exodus" for the first time around the same age you did. I think I've read it 10 times! Same with "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", which I read every few years. I bought "The Story of Helen Keller" through Scholastic book services, too. And I was always buying books for my kids, too. Like my mom used to tell me, "If you have a good book to read, you'll never be lonely" and I've definitely passed that on to my daughter. Her collection is probably up around a thousand. Also loved the "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" books, Nancy Drew mysteries, Hardy Boy mysteries, and the "Claudia" book series by Rose Franken. And Beverly Cleary. She was from Portland, and do you know, my beloved Aunt Gin lived on a certain Avenue in NE Portland that intersected with Klickitat Street, which is one of the streets mentioned in her books!

Kristen said...

I'm kind of late on this post, but I agree with Robin - you have a great blog, excellent ideas, enjoyable writing.
The book I read as a child that has stayed with me the longest is A Little Princess. When Sara gave all but one of her hot buns to an urchin, I decided that's what I wanted to be like. I've tried to follow her example all my life!

Lisa said...

I have had this story about Katrinka on my mind for days now and finally googled about it. Thank you for showing the pictures. This was my first favorite story from childhood!