My Childhood in Books

First and Second Grade: My mom started reading Little House in the Big Woods to my brother and me, and then she stopped reading it. I don’t know why…busyness, I suppose, but I wasn’t happy with being left hanging in the middle of the book. I wanted to know more about Laura. One day I saw the book sitting on the end table, and I wondered if I could read it on my own. It was a big book for a first grader…chapters, you know, not very many pictures. I started pestering Mom to finish reading it, and I think she finally told me to just read it on my own and she would help with any words I didn’t know. So I did. And she did. And when I finished it, we took it back to the library and checked out Little House on the Prairie. For Christmas that year, my parents gave me the boxed set of the series. It took me over a year, but I read all of them. I remember sitting on my bed at the end of second grade, turning the last page of The First Four Years and feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. And thus began my love affair with books and reading.

Third Grade: I discovered Little Women and Louisa May Alcott, whose books I devoured over the next few years. I remain eternally grateful to my parents, teachers, and librarians for never telling me a book was too big for me.

Fourth Grade: I discovered Anne of Green Gables. I thought the first chapter was horribly boring and skipped it, but by the time I got to the middle, I was entranced. I remember laying on my bed in my tiny bedroom one evening when I should have been doing homework, but instead I was reading Anne. That night, I cried when Matthew died, and I cried again in the next chapter when Anne and Gilbert were reconciled. Ever since, I’ve loved a good reconciliation story.

Fifth Grade: Our student teacher introduced me to Narnia. I had seen The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in my fourth grade teacher’s room, and thought it looked interesting, but knew my mom would never allow it. The word “witch” was in the title, and that was the year my mom began her campaign against Halloween and anything related so I didn’t think witches would be allowed. However, I adored my fifth grade student teacher and thought she could do no wrong, so I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and probably hid it from my mom), and was amazed at the Christian story that came out in it. The student teacher loaned me her boxed set so I could read the whole series, and I had finished them by the end of fifth grade. I took the books back to school on what was supposed to be her last day in our classroom, only to find out she wouldn’t be coming back. I tried calling her to return the books, but her roommate said she had gone to Africa for the year. I still have her books….

Sixth Grade: I was that kid who took her reading book home on the first day of school and read all the stories that looked interesting. One of the stories was about a creature who lived in a hole in the ground and had hairy toes and was forced to feed a bunch of dwarves who showed up at his house one day. And so I discovered Hobbits and the world of Middle Earth. After reading the first chapter in my reading book, I had to check the book out from the library, and then I had to read The Lord of the Rings. My parents gave me the set for Christmas, and I think I had read all three books by the time Christmas break was over. For many years, I reread the series every winter. It’s a good tale for winter, and while I don’t reread it every year now, whenever the weather turns cold and the days grow shorter, I find myself thinking of Middle Earth. Perhaps I’ll journey there again this winter…

This blog is part of a writing adventure. The current theme is “books we loved as kids”. Check out the rest of the blogs at Via Scribendi.