My mother enjoys reminding me that my first word was “book”, as if it says something about my character. I doubt that, as my sister’s first word was “kitty” and she is more of a dog person. Still, I was one of those kids who would take a book (in this case, Sesame Street’s Are You My Mother) to the playground and read in the sandbox while the other kids built sandcastles around me. So when I look back on my childhood my mind conjures up a stack of childhood books as much as it does people and events.
There’s Goodnight Moon, the Dr. Seuss canon (particularly Hop On Pop), and Pat the Bunny. There’s A Friend For Little Bear, the first book I read myself. As I got older, it was A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and volume after volume of The Babysitters Club. When my parents would argue, I found solace in Mary Alice, Operator 9, about a misguided platypus who is a telephone operator; when they split up, they got me a book called The Dinosaurs Get Divorced, which made very little sense to me. I also spent hours upon hours amusing myself by studying my mother’s gigantic hardcover Webster’s dictionary that must have weighted ten pounds. In a nice dovetailing of my love of etymology and my OCD, the dictionary was a bit of a refuge for me. And, like a lot of kids, I thought I’d be a smarty-pants by reading my mom’s books. Five pages into Rabbit Run, I realized that was a big mistake.
So, what were your favorite books as a kid? Were there books that you associate with a certain period or event? And which ones (if any) shaped your thoughts or cemented your love of reading?