Tales From the Garden
On Looking Out

Museum of Me: May 2022

It's the second Friday in May, and that means it's time for a new exhibit in the . . . 

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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. . . )

Anyway.

This month's exhibit is about one of those things I loved doing: Reading. 
C'mon in!
Let's talk books!

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(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!

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(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? 

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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.

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Even though Pippi doesn't technically belong with all my old books . . . I think she fits right in. Don't you?

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How about you? What are your favorite childhood books?

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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. 

 

Comments

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kat

I love this Kym! (and how could I forget about Misti of Chincoteague?) I went to kindergarten and did not learn to read here... or in the first first grade I was in. (Holland Public Schools... what can I say) It was not until we moved midway through 1st grade where everyone else was reading. It was okay though, because I got to go with the lunch aid and (though I do not remember her name) I remember her incredible kindness. Within weeks I was "caught up" to my class mates and soon soared right past them. Reading was my lifeline as a child and I could not get enough of it!

And do you know what? I have never read Pippi! I think I need to remedy that and soon!

Thank you so much for this wonderful exhibit!

Carole

We didn't have public kindergarten either but I went to private kindergarten (which sounds terribly fancy but wasn't, it was at our church) and I remember learning to read then. And also learning that I hated fingerpainting but that's a story for another day. I read much like you - anywhere and everywhere - and I adored the library, both the one at school and the one my mom took me to. As I was reading your favorites I paused and tried to predict which one you would single out and I just knew that it would be Pippi Longstocking! I never really related to Pippi myself, which I'm sure comes as no surprise to you. I also remembered how much I adored the Carolyn Haywood Betsy series which I had completely forgotten about.

Mary

I'll add Trixie Belden to your list of detectives!

Being an army child, I was always able to have 'friends' around while waiting to make new friends in a new town.

I once found a book, at the Scholastic Sale at St Mary's Star of the Sea in Hampton, Virginia (we only lived there one year, while my Dad was in Vietnam) called Mary in Command, about a sea captain's wife who has to take over when her husband falls ill. Many (many many) years later, I found it online. It nows lives with me.

I also loved Little Women (I was Jo!) and Little Men.

The biography section of the base library (in Syracuse, NY) saw me EVERY Saturday, to learn about American historical figures. Nathan Hale, Noah Webster, Jessie Fremont, Jesse Owens- I could go on and on.

My love for historical fiction was sparked by those books. I lean that way in taste to this day. Follett, Michener, Rutherford are among my favorite authors.

Vera

I've enjoyed today's exhibits by ALL of you! Thank you, thank you. So many memories come flooding back. I loved Pippi too! And (of course) Nancy Drew, Ramona, Charlotte's Web (and Stuart Little), etc., etc. As I commented on both Kat's and Bonny's blogs, my favorite books growing up were animal stories (mostly woodland creatures) by Thornton Burgess. Sammy Jay, Reddy Fox, Old Mother West Wind, etc., etc. First my parents read them to me and then, when I could read on my own, I read them over and over again. I still have some and Colin enjoyed them read to him when he was a toddler. I find it interesting how important reading was (and is) to so many of us. I feel so sorry for those who don't enjoy reading.

Sarah

So many of the books you named were among my favorites, too! I don't think I ever read Pippi, though -- can you believe it? I remember watching a movie or a TV show at some point, enough that I can still remember the theme song. Weird! I suspect many of us who are avid readers today were the children who tried to sneak reading time in all the time. I don't remember when I learned to read because it just seemed like I always could -- it was definitely before kindergarten -- and I always had a book with me. The old classics are still wonderful, but I'm also pretty excited about the boom in children's and YA literature in recent years.

Dee

I've always enjoyed reading, although I don't remember specific titles from when I was little little.

I did enjoy the Little House on the Prairie books and the Misty of Chincoteague books.

Bonny

I love reading about all the favorite childhood books on exhibit in the Museums of Me, and Pippi definitely deserves a place! It's kind of amazing how these books find their way to us, and I love your reading photos. Pippi is also my SiL's favorite childhood book and a couple of years ago we read it together at the same time. I was glad to find that I still enjoyed it as an adult, and we laughed hysterically on the phone about Pippi's ability to lift her horse one-handed. (I also wish I had a suitcase of gold coins.) I'm listening to Kat's favorite Island of the Blue Dolphins today, and I think I need to re-read Pippi also. Thanks so much for The Museum of Me (and especially book-related exhibits)!

Debbie

I haven’t thought of Pippi in years! How much fun I had reading about her adventures! I grew up reading all the time. I loved Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belsen, Sue Barton, & so many more! The book that was special for me was The Secret Garden. Our school was expanded the summer before 4th grade & part of the expansion was a school library. The librarian, Mrs. Waters, put The Secret Garden into my hands and told me it might be a bit of a challenge, but to take my time & enjoy it. She also taught me how wonderful it was to be able to renew a book!

Teresa

Island of the Blue Dolphins was my absolute favourite

So thank you for your blog - I so enjoy reading it.

My mum died of lymphoma at the same time as you but you survived and flourished. I like reading your blog to remind myself of my mum and reimagine her life through your eyes

Thanks and I hope you never stop blogging

Patty

Thornton Burgess, Nancy Drew, Lassie Come Home (probably my favorite) Trixie, so many good books! And I’ve never read Pippi either. I’ll remedy that soon. Great exhibit today Kym!

Chloe

Too many to list - like the rest of you! But delighted to hear someone else (Vera) mention Reddy Fox which was my first “chapter book.” I read it incessantly and tried re-reading it about 10 years ago when I found it on Amazon. Not surprisingly it “was not the same.” Still totally charming, but it failed to hold my adult interest. No one mentioned Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He is still one of my top two favorite childhood authors. The other being Ms. Alcott. I read all of hers and Little Women so many times I remembered all the chapter names. “Aunt March Settles the Question” was my favorite because - as I remember it - it forced Meg’s beau to declare his love. I was born too early to enjoy Pippi, but it came out at just the right time for my daughter. Pippi was a renegade but without a distressing agenda. Long live Pippi!

Chloe

Although, years later, she might have sported a tattoo.

Claudia

What a lovely post. I read all the time as a child, just like you. I liked Nancy Drew, the Bobsey Twins and the Hardy boys. I'm sure there was more, but alas memory fades.

Carolyn

So many great stories and memories here--yours, and calling up my own! Pippi was one I liked as a kid--but LOVED as an adult. It was one of my favorite read-alouds to my kids, from our summer cottage, which felt way more Pippi-inspired than home does.
Another favorite of mine was Heidi...
Love this 'exhibit,' Kym! (And love your graphic.)

Mary

This was such a fun topic; I've had a ball visiting everyone's exhibits! I haven't read Pippi in ages and don't own a copy either. I loved the Little House books and Nancy Drew the most as a kid.

Jane

Reading brings back so many wonderful memories. I spent most of my summers reading library books. I loved The Bobbsey twins, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, The Five Little Peppers, the All of a Kind Family among others. My all time favorite was Little Women. My grandmother read (out loud - all of it!) my mother's copy to my sister and I. I'm sure part of the reason I loved it was because my grandmother loved it. I still have the book.

sustainablemum

Lovely post, I do love this series. I read Pippi as a child and like you was enthralled. I tried reading it to my children but they did not like her at all. They loved the Bullerby Children books, I think they are called Noisy Village in the US which are by the same author. I prefer them to Pippi much as I love her too. I also loved Heidi, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and anything by Noel Streatfield. I read before I started school and was always reading as a child.

Margene

I remember Pippi! We made weekly trips to the library and mom let us each get 10 books. That way she could count books and tell us whether to look for 1 (or 2) lost books. We always found them all! Having so many siblings follow me I never had ANYTHING of my own. The only book I have from childhood is my bible which was a birthday gift when I turned eight. While I never read it, it is beautiful and dear.

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