Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Read, First Love

BookingThroughThursday poses the question: What was the first book you remember readingWhat about the first that made you really love reading?

It's lightening today, so I figure I can post something intended to share on Thor's Day.

In all likelihood, my first read was something by Dr. Seuss or a Sunday school book -- you know, the kind that present the death of everything on Earth as a kid's story. My parents encouraged reading in my sister and I, and were readers to varying extents themselves. Either my mom, my dad, or my sister would take me to the library once a week, where I would bolt upstairs and check out as many books as they would let me. I remember declaring early on that Beverly Cleary was my favorite author, so it is possible and likely that my first book of any substance came from her series about Henry Huggins, his friend Beatrice Quimby, her kid sister Ramona Quimby (who called Beatrice ("Beezus"), and Henry's dog Ribsy.

I also enjoyed Gertrude Warner's Boxcar Children series (mysteries) and R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" series. Goosebumps, a fantasy-horror-dark humor series aimed at kids, became an obsession in late elementary school.  I declared Stine, Cleary, and Warner my favorite authors at varying intervals. I also read a lot of Bruce Coville, who did science fiction for kids. One of his books, The Search for Snout, involved  an interplanetary crew searching for their apparently deceased, serious-minded friend Snout.....which now sounds vaugely familiar.

My first novel, though altered for children, was the Great Illustrated Classics version of Jack London's Call of the Wild. I received it for Christmas and felt proud of myself for reading a "real" book. The first unaltered novel was Paul Zindel's The Pigman, which may have been too serious or dark in theme for the child that I was.

Sorting out what book made me "love" reading is more difficult. I so much as a child because my parents believed televisions were unsuitable for Christians to have, so entertainment for me meant reading, playing with toys, or running around outside. Trying to figure when I began to love reading would be like figuring out when I began to enjoy sweet tea: I've been doing it for too long.  I do remember Brian Jacques' Redwall making me value reading more, changing my perspective on what a book could be. Books like Goosebumps were light entertainment, but Redwall kept me spellbound for hours at a time. It did to me what Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter did for other generations of kids.

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