Since it's been a reading weekend--543 pages down in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
--and the question has been posed regarding reading remembrances
, let's stay on the subject of books.
I don't particularly recall learning to read, although I know that I liked doing it and was told that I read from a fairly early age. I asked my mom for some specifics because she would know. She's filled in some of the blanks, although it's amazing what comes back to you when you think about it.
I didn't attend preschool, and due to my birthday falling near the cutoff date, I was among the youngest in my class by starting school at the age of four. (I turned five after a couple weeks. ) I began spelling and recognizing words with the help of The Letter People
in kindergarten. I still remember the program's theme song, found at the beginning of this video for Mr. H
. The knitters will have some affection for Mr. S
and his Super Socks. While it might seem crazy for Miss O's
identifier to be Obstinate--an awfully big word for the kids the show was aimed at--the meaning and spelling stuck. (My parents might be inclined to say I took the word to heart at the dinner table. I was a picky eater.)
My mom says I was "really reading" in first grade. I can visualize a bunch of slim yellow soft-cover readers probably bought at a garage sale, but supposedly the first book I read was a Star Wars
picture book that condensed the story of the first film (otherwise known as Episode IV: A New Hope
). I know that I also tore through the Sweet Pickles
books. Later on I heard that my parents were a little worried I would be an "egghead"--for some reason that still sticks out to me--because I was a voracious reader. (They were relieved when I got into sports.) I won a prize in second grade for reading three hundred books, the most in my grade.
I read a great variety of stuff in elementary schools, from Choose Your Own Adventure
paperbacks to Laura Ingalls Wilder novels. I loved Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain
five-book series and was laughed out loud at Gordon Korman's
books, which I probably bought through the Scholastic Book Club mail-order forms passed out in class. (It seems that many of the Canadian Korman's books from that time, such as No Coins, Please
, are out-of-print in the U.S.) Of course, there was the Weekly Reader
and periodic school visits by the bookmobile, a fire engine red caboose with wall-to-wall books for purchase.
By fifth grade I had teachers pointing me toward bigger books, such as those by James Herriot
. My mom was a long-term substitute teacher in the building's other fifth grade class that year, but she was the reading teacher for all students in that grade. I remember asking her to assign book reports, which I loved to do. (I suspect my fellow students would not have been crazy about this if they knew.) It's no wonder I'm a critic now, isn't it?
I was reading Agatha Christie mysteries by junior high. Again, this would be per my mother's influence. She loved to watch the PBS program Mystery!
, the (at the time) Vincent Price-hosted anthology show whose animated opening credits were inspired by Edward Gorey drawings and featured Charles Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette" as the theme song. (You can hear the familiar theme starting at the 2:21 mark here
. Furthering my nerd credentials, I learned this on the piano.)
I continued to read books for fun through high school, saw a dip in that during college, and have experienced ebbs and flows in novel reading since. If I find a new author I love, I tend to read everything I can get my hands on. I may then go months without finishing a book.
Reading Deathly Hallows
this weekend (and likely into tomorrow) reminds me of how wonderful it is to be swept away by a book. It seems that an entire generation of readers has discovered that sense through J.K. Rowling's books. Hopefully it sticks. If Friday/Saturday night's crowd
was any indication, the printed novel isn't dead yet.
Labels: books, reading