Thursday, August 1, 2013

What is the FIRST book you remember?

FIRST is what makes this a tough question for me. I simply don't remember not reading! That's a good thing. I grew up at the library, Howard County Central Branch, with mom volunteering all the time, cutting out projects for storytime and shelving, shelving, shelving.

But first book? I'm going with Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. I remember looking for Goldbug on every page and identifying the curiously specific vehicles, in the vein of the Kissmobile we saw at the airport open house. Mom says my first word was "truck". What does that say about me?

Mrs Starks, who lived across the street, says she remembers me on the front lawn reading and wearing a Pampers. I went to kindergarten reading and writing, print and cursive. Part of that also stems from being in a neighborhood with a lot of kids of all ages, so just about everyone had to strive to keep up with the "big kids".

Some other books I remember from really young are:
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle1
  • When I was 5, our babysitter gave our family a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. I wanted it for my very own so instead of putting it on the family bookshelves, I hid it under my bed and read it by flashlight. I've never actually grown out of keeping books under the bed.
  • All my elementary school teachers read aloud to us. Mrs Sandler introduced me to The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie (Andrews) Edwards.
  • Reading Rainbow was the BEST kids' program! Mom recently gave me a bag of books we bought because we heard about them from LeVar Burton2,3, including but not limited to:
    • Bea and Mr Jones, about a kindergartener swapping positions for a day with her dad. Not swapping bodies a la Freaky Friday, just the 5yo going to work and the corporate adult going to kindergarten.
    • Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport, about not wanting to move, especially from familiar NYC to such a foreign environment as Texas. This was also my first exposure to "you pronounce it like an "H"".
    • A Chair for My Mother
    • A Pocket for Corduroy, which I have always preferred to Corduroy.
    • Gregory, the Terrible Eater
  • Mom also dug out my copy of How we are Born, How we Grow, How our Bodies Work, and How we Learn, which is the first encyclopedic science-y book I remember really working through. It was not just a fact or two per page but loads of pictures surrounded by different sized type for how much you wanted to/were able to dig into the material.
1 More recently, I introduced The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my friend C. She was perhaps 3 then? And she had the memory to remember-read (or perhaps picture-read) the book after my reading it to her just once. A few days later she was feeling kinda blah, so I suggested a slice of watermelon, a cupcake, a sausage, etc, "like the Very Hungry Caterpillar", which she was very excited about. Her mom, by contrast, suggested a green leaf. Less-happy C protested, "I'm not a caterpillar, I'm a girl!" Her mom replied, "So you were only a caterpillar for junk food."
2 But you don't have to take MY word for it.
3 I know you're "supposed" to recognize him from Star Trek. But to me he'll always be the guy from Reading Rainbow. Actually, we recently found him on Perception on TNT as a recurring character. He plays the department chair over the lead, Eric McCormack (Will Truman from Will & Grace)'s character. I'm very much enjoying the show.

It makes me sad that kids' books have such a short shelf life! They get loved hard and wear out. I heard once that most kid lit gets a 6mo print run and then on to the next. Some of these fabulous titles I bet you could still find, but others have come and gone. Fortunately new authors and illustrators are cropping up every year! A few recent favorites include:
  • Patricia Polacco
  • Kevin Henkes
  • Mo Willems (My favorite of his is Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator, although I also like Knuffle Bunny. Less fond of the pigeon, but I know he has his followers)
  • Suzanne Bloom (A Splendid Friend Indeed and its three-that-I-know-of sequels)
And longtime authors and illustrators:
  • Sandra Boynton (my mom's favorite illustrator ever)
  • Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby)
  • Tomie dePaolo (Strega Nona)
  • Steven Kellogg (who illustrated for a number of other authors as well)
So... what was your FIRST?

PS I wonder, if I asked my mom and my dad what they remember as my first book, what they would say?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... FIRST book... that is tough! I'm sure it wasn't my first, but the Miss Nelson series rings a bell. I didn't know who Richard Scarry was until I had Anna, and Larry's mom introduced me to those books! They are a favorite over here.