My mother always understood that the key to education and doing well in school was reading; she read to me every night. She took me to the library for reading time and we would check out the same books over and over. We had stacks of library books next to the couch. And when we went on vacation, she packed a bag full of books, and she would read to me while my dad drove the truck. I had some favorites that have stuck with me through the years. I remember when Brownie and Puff knocked over cans of paint and made new colors. I remember crawling under the living room table to read the tales of Peter Rabbit. I don’t really remember us buying many of these books; they just seemed to magically appear. When I was older, my parents would take me to the bookstore. My dad would always tell me to pick out a book. While waiting in line, he would always ask, did you see another one? Go get it!
I tortured my poor mother, making her read and reread my favorite books, two of which I cannot find. They were dinosaur books, with horribly long names and my mom would try to skip a page but I knew she was skipping and I would wail, “MOM, you’re SKIPPING a page!!!!” Poor Mom would lick her lips, flip back the page, and resume reading.
Discovering Ramona Quimby was like finding a kindred spirit. She was quirky, weird, and curious. She emptied an entire tube of toothpaste in the sink. Her mother scooped it into a jar and made Ramona use that toothpaste while the rest of the family used a brand new tube. I often think of her when I brush my teeth.
I had a little Disco record player and I would play my records and read along over and over. Over and over. That was even better, because there were sound effects and music.
Looking over these books I realize that I liked mysteries from a young age. The Berenstain Bears and the case of the missing pumpkin! Freaky Francie was a detective. The Great Brain series always featured mysteries and con games.
And the comics! Oh I had stacks and stacks of those. We used to buy them at the flea market. I was interested in Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Dennis the Menace, and eventually Archie and much later, Star Wars. Whenever we would go to the bookstore I would flip through a huge Mickey Mouse comic book. It was so big and so expensive (maybe $40) that I never asked for it. But of course my parents noticed me gravitate towards the book and one Christmas I received it. I read and reread that book. It is one of my most treasured items.
I cannot imagine who I would be if my parents would not have encouraged and indulged my love of reading. The incredible thing is that my mother gets easily distracted and has a hard time finishing a book. She always regretted not having the concentration to read so much. My father, when he worked full time, read some but not nearly as much as now that he is retired. So both of them went out of their comfort zone to instill what they considered the most important skill their child could have, an insatiable appetite for reading.
Books that are not shown here are the books about Frances the Badger. Those ones we checked out over and over from the library. Bread and Jam for Frances, Bedtime for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, Best Friends for Frances.