I was a voracious reader as a child. Reading was magical. It transported me to another world and life around me just melted away. As early as third grade, I would hungrily devour chapter books– sometimes a book a day. I read in class, on the bus, and under the covers after bedtime. Teachers sat the chatty kids next to me because I ignored them, my nose in a book.
My favorites were fantasy books like The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, animal stories like The Black Stallion, and tales of strong, adventuresome kids like My Side of the Mountain. The protagonists in these books were resourceful and brave. They overcame great obstacles to fly on a dragon, tame a wild stallion, and survive in the wild. I wanted to be like them and do great deeds of my own. I also really wanted a dragon!
I regularly spent my entire allowance on books and had quite a collection at home. I started a classroom library at my school in third grade. I was attending a private school which did not have a children’s library, so I built a bookshelf with my dad and brought in a selection of some of my favorite books. I even made a tiny card catalog on note cards for the kids to use when they borrowed the books. The book I remember most at that age was Black and Blue Magic, a story about a boy who had a magic potion which allowed him to grow wings and fly. (What I wouldn’t have given for such a potion!) I also have fond memories of the bookmobile which came to that school. I couldn’t get over the idea of a library on wheels. It was such an event to leave the classroom, board the bus, and pick out a book. I wished I could have my own bookmobile and travel around the country with all of my books!
I loved being read to as a child and will never forget my teacher reading us the Chronicles of Narnia books a chapter at a time. My parents were not big readers themselves, but they always read to me. I remember being sick as a kid and my Dad coming home from work to read to me from A Secret Garden. That is probably my favorite book to this day because of the warm feelings and memories it evokes of sitting with my Dad and listening to his deep, comforting voice.
I was a latchkey kid and spent many an afternoon at the library waiting for my parents to get home. I loved the freedom to pursue my own interests there. I would think of a topic or question and comb the shelves for everything I could find on it. For example, at age 10, my favorite book was The Guide to Self Sufficient Farming and I dreamed of having a homestead of my own one day. I searched the stacks for statistics on unassisted live births for different cattle breeds and which chickens laid the most eggs in winter. I used that information to plan what I would raise on my farm. I remember discovering an Italian cattle breed called Chianinas which were excellent mothers, required no help to calve, and were good at converting forage into protein. No one in Texas was raising them at the time or had ever heard of them. Now they are one of the most popular hybrids in the South.
I so loved disappearing into a good book as a child that I would go through “withdrawal” when I had to put it down or when I finished it. I would often sit and pretend that I was the main character in the book. Coming back down to earth would leave me feeling like the baby in this clip.
Chambers, H. G. (2017, November 9). Book review-the Dragonriders of Pern: Dragonflight [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://hgchambers.com/book-review-dragonriders-pern-dragonflight/
Bunnyterry. (2010, January 13). New Mexico State Library bookmobile [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ilovenewmexico.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/new-mexico-state-library-bookmobile/
Thirdstoryies. (2015, March10). (story)time: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.thirdstoryies.com/2015/03/10/storytime-the-secret-garden-by-frances-hodgson-burnett/
KorbenDallasMultipass. (2016, April 4). Finishing the last book in a series [gif]. Retrieved from https://imgur.com/gallery/kngfK69