It's the second Friday in May, and that means it's time for a new exhibit in the . . .
When I was a kid, I loved doing pretty much all the same stuff I do now: making things, drawing and coloring, listening to music, and reading. (I also did quite a lot of "taking charge" of the neighborhood kids, convincing them to take part in my various schemes. Which I still kinda do, I suppose.) (I only hope I'm less bossy and more inclusive now. . . )
This month's exhibit is about one of those things I loved doing: Reading.
Let's talk books!
(Me, just out of third grade, reading to my sister.)
I learned to read well before I went to school. (My school district didn't have public school kindergarten, so I didn't step foot into a classroom until I was a first grader.) We did a lot of reading when I was little, and my childhood was filled with trips to the library. My mom used to tell me that I taught myself to read, which actually might be true. I have a very vague memory of just . . . suddenly . . . being able to decipher the words that I saw around me on signs, in the grocery store, in books. It was magic! By the time I actually got to school, I was such an advanced reader that my teacher didn't quite know what to do with me. She used to allow me time to read on my own, which I loved. It didn't take long, though, before lots of other kids in my class caught up with me, so my time as a "special" reader ended.
I always had a book nearby to read when I was a kid. I kept them in my desk as school for those times when I finished my work early and was allowed to "read quietly at my desk." I read in the car whenever we drove somewhere. I read waiting for dance class to begin. I read at the table (when I could get away with it, which wasn't often but I did try all the time; sometimes I wore my mom down). I read with a flashlight under the covers (my mom turned a blind eye). Sometimes I even read while wandering the aisles at the grocery store with my mom. I read and I read and I read!
(Me, just about to head into sixth grade, with my personal "library.")
Although I dreamed of having a big, "storybook" kind of library, most of the books I read were library loans. (I adored the library.) As you can see from my photo, I didn't own many books at all. And most of the books you see on my shelf had belonged to my mom when she was a little girl. But I did have a few of my own. I usually got a book at Christmas, and I lived for the Scholastic book orders at school. Still, my personal childhood library was very limited, and didn't include most of my very favorite books . . .
Misty of Chincoteague. Across Five Aprils. The Island of Blue Dolphins. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Caddie Woodlawn. All the Ramona Quimby books. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Little House on the Prairie books. A Wrinkle in Time. The Phantom Tollbooth. The Narnia series. Nancy Drew. The Hardy Boys, too. The Childhood-of-Famous-Americans series. The Betsy-Tacy books. The Bobbsey Twins. Charlotte's Web.
My favorite, though?
In third grade, I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Hermann. (I've written about her before. She's the teacher who first introduced me to the wonders of poetry, and I will be forever grateful.) One day, I got finished with my school work quickly and realized I had forgotten to bring a book to read. I asked to go to the library, but Mrs. Hermann said no -- because another class was scheduled for library time right then. I almost cried. Wise Mrs. Hermann understood, though. She pulled a book out of her desk drawer and asked me, "Have you met Pippi yet?"
I had not.
She lent me her book, right there. I was immediately captivated by Pippi. Mrs. Hermann let me keep reading, right through recess. She even let me borrow her book -- and take it home! -- until I finished. (I guarded it like it was a precious jewel.)
And how I loved Pippi! She was Swedish, just like me. She ate pepparkakor, just like me! And she did so many other silly and fantastical things that were not like me at all. I loved every page. I wanted to hang out with her and Tommy and Annika at Villa Villekulla. (Although Annika did kinda bug me. Too prissy. Too perfect. Too clean.) I read the book (and the others in the series) over and over and over again. (I read it to my own kids, too. They were not quite as charmed as I had been. It's hard to top "Captain Underpants," y'know?)
As I was thinking about this exhibit, I realized that . . . as much as I had loved Pippi Longstocking as a child, I had never owned a copy of the book. So I went out and bought a copy for myself. (I read it again, too. It's really silly.) It was actually harder to find than I expected. It was buried on the back shelf of the children's bookstore we have in town . . . deep in the "classics" section. But now, Pippi has a place in my old childhood library. I've managed to keep most of those old books over the years, and they live happily together in a shelf in one of my living room curio cabinets.
Even though Pippi doesn't technically belong with all my old books . . . I think she fits right in. Don't you?
How about you? What are your favorite childhood books?
Thanks for visiting The Museum of Me. Watch for new exhibits . . . on the 2nd Friday of each month.
And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of monthly prompts) and we can tell our stories together.