The Friday Five - Childhood Books 9:40 a.m. 2003-07-07

Drive Time: 29 minutes
Current Listening: nothing - need to go to the library today!
Current Reading: A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain - just finished!
Current Viewing: Season Four of Sex and the City on DVD - finally!

I haven't done the The Friday Five in a while. Here goes:

1. What were your favorite childhood stories?

I read a lot as a child, but it was probably the adolescent novels that I liked the best. I even did a journal entry about The Trixie Belden series. I still have a set of books. I never got into Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but I also liked Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, because of their kookie hangout!

Probably my favorite books of all time, though, were horse books, with National Velvet by Enid Bagnold heading the pack. Don't ever get it confused with that mockery of a movie that was made starring Elizabeth Taylor - if you haven't read the book, then you don't know VELVET! Other horse books/series included the Black Stallion series, anything by Marguerite Henry, the My Friend Flicka series, and anything by Patsy Gray. I also came across a book called A Stable for Jill by Ruby Ferguson, which I loved, but the the rest of the books were hard to find - except for in Britain, Canada, and Australia. Just my luck! There was also some books by Janet Lambert that I really got into, and I also went through my Betty Cavanna phase.

One of the best books of all time is Cress Delahanty by Jessamyn West. I still have that book, and love it. I really enjoy "retro" books, set in the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's, before everything got so hard! One of my favorite "retro" books was set in the 1920's, called Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, by Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner. It's about two girls taking their first trip to France, and it was great! I loved Tom Sawyer, but not Huckleberry Finn. I am a big fan of Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, and did teach that to one of my advanced classes.

2. What books from your childhood would you like to share with [your] children?

I teach middle school ESOL, and it is really disheartening how little the younger generation seems to get into reading. It's like pulling teeth to get them to read - much less appreciate and enjoy it. I understand the English barrier - but I get the impression that they wouldn't read in their native language!

I would love to turn kids on to the above books from my childhood, but they are a little out of date for most. Luckily for me, I have had a chance to discover authors that either weren't around during my middle school years, or just those that I didn't read back then. I still read juvenile fiction, because I identify strongly with it, and it helps give me something to recommend to my students. One of my favorite authors of the moment is Susan Fisher Staples, who wrote Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind, it's sequel Haveli, and Shiva's Fire. I even corresponded with her via e-mail, and have written a previous entry on the correspondance.

I also love Jean Craighead George. I did see the movie, My Side of the Mountain, as a young person, but didn't read a lot of here books. A couple of years ago, I picked up a copy of The Summer of the Falcon, and really liked it. And just this past year, I listened to Volumes 1 and 3 of the Julie of the Wolves series. Loved them! I hear that a movie is in the works - I wonder how that's going to go!

Last, but not least, I have discovered Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. It's a great book - very lyrical. I had my girls read it this past year, while the boys read Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska.

And I am discovering new books every day!

3. Have you re-read any of those childhood stories and been surprised by anything?

I re-read them all the time, and am surprised sometimes about how "adult" some of them are: mainly National Velvet and Cress Delahanty, and definitely the Mary O'Hara books - especially The Green Grass of Wyoming. The others I favor for that nostalgia for more innocent times.

4. How old were you when you first learned to read?

I don't know - 5 or 6? But I may have done simple stuff before then - You'd have to ask my mother. I am sure that I was very advanced for my age! ;-)

5. Do you remember the first 'grown-up' book you read? How old were you?

I hope I'm not going to get in trouble for this, but probably when I was around 9 or 10, I started sneaking into my Gran's closet, and pilfering such shockers as books by Frank Yerby - very racy - all about prostitutes and stuff! On second thought, they might have been my father's. There's another book set in World War II that was about two girls who were best friend, but grew apart. It was a great book, and I can remember parts of it vividly, but, sadly, I don't remember the title.

I started out by trying to link everything, but my computer is not behaving, and it's too time-consuming, so I am just letting it go!

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