From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
Yesterday When I Was Young…
I got plenty of exercise walking down memory lane the last couple of weeks as I looked for stories and songs for the campfire program on Wednesday night (thanks to those who indulged my nostalgia!) Thinking of Girl Scout meetings stirred up other memories from when I was a certain age, most of them revolving around books.
The first book I actually owned (if I’m remembering correctly and that’s not a sure thing) was Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat dictionary. Did I actually read those words or was I looking at the illustrations and assume that’s what the word was? Whatever, in my mind I was reading and that started me on my lifelong journey with books. I had other Dr Seuss books, along with many Little Golden Books (anyone else remember Poky Little Puppy and Animals of Farmer Jones?) before moving on to Winnie-the-Pooh.
We didn’t call them chapter books when I was in grade school—think it was more along the lines of “big kid books”—but I devoured whatever I could find. Lincoln School didn’t have a separate library until I was in 3rd or 4th grade so we only had a smaller collection in each classroom to choose from—unless your mother took you to the public library on Saturdays—so I wasn’t always real choosy about what I selected. I remember reading many Matt Christopher sports books because that’s all I could find. But I much preferred anything by Beverly Cleary and Marguerite Henry before moving on to the Boxcar Children and the Black Stallion. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was introduced by one of my teachers when she read to the class every afternoon and from there I found Homer Price and Henry Reed.
Even at that age I wasn’t a fan of fantasy—didn’t care for “A Wrinkle in Time”—but I loved “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” Who wouldn’t want to live in a museum, hiding out in the various displays? But my absolute favorite was The Three Investigators series. Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews were so much better than Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and more importantly, they weren’t perfect. They were human. One was “stocky,” another suffered from injuries that left him temporarily disabled, they weren’t the “cool kids” at school (neither was I). I wanted to hang out with them and solve mysteries.
Those early days of reading did shape my tastes—I’ll choose a mystery over other genres on almost any given day, but you won’t find me reading many sports books these days (“Boys in the Boat” is the exception and everyone should read it). What books from your youth have stayed with you over the years?