My Never-Ending Story

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!” — Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

I have a distinct memory of learning to read my first word. It was CAT. From that moment on, I was enthralled with the magic of written words. From the wicker seat of my little red chair, I could go anywhere, be anyone, and do anything. My mom loved to read. Reading aloud to me was one of her most cherished activities, and she bought me far more books than toys. When I left home at 20, the majority of my personal belongings were the over 200 hardbound books that I had accumulated by then. I remember with a yearning ache the idyllic hours we would spend at the library on Saturday afternoons, curled up on the floor like contented cats in a patch of sunshine, dust motes swirling around us, breathing in the earthy scent of old books while we skimmed their jackets or delved into the beginning chapters, carefully narrowing our selection to the 10-book limit we could check out that week. There is timeless truth in the words of Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, in the movie You’ve Got Mail“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.”

What were your favorite childhood books? Do you recognize these?

With C-A-T
My adventures began
See Spot Run
Green Eggs and Ham
Solving mysteries
With Nancy Drew
With each new story
My love for books grew
There and back again
With Bilbo Baggins
And skipping with Brighty
In the Grand Canyon
Around the world
In 80 days
On Prince Edward Island
With Anne I played
I watched as Charlotte
Spun her web
I cried when Dan and Ann
Were dead
With Wang Lung
I loved the land
And raced the Black
On desert sand
I caught spring fever
Along with Mole
Into the secret garden
I stole
Unbounded travel
Is never hard
All I need
Is a library card
So if I’m lost
No need to look
I’m in the pages
Of a book

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