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Friday Five: Kid's Books
Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003, 11:42 p.m.

QUESTION: How can I bottle that exhilarating kid-book feeling?

WHAT I LEARNED: A good children's book remains in our hearts.

1. What were your favorite childhood stories?

I was a big reader as a kid. My favorites included:

  • Little Golden Books – My parents were always good for a Little Golden Book at the grocery store and I remember getting them handed to me while being wheeled around in a grocery cart from early on. They had great illustrations and that beautiful foil binding.
  • The Cat in the Hat – I remember this as being one of my first reads as an elementary school kid and it wasn’t a particularly easy read for me as it was really a rather long story. But the antics of that crazy Cat in the Hat and the tension of the kids as they anticipated their mother’s arrival home to view her household reduced to chaos, made it worth the early reader’s struggle.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh – Who couldn’t love the whole 1,000 Acre gang?
  • Mary Poppins – She didn’t take any crap but secretly she was a softy who made cool things happen in the course of ordinary living. The illustrations by Mary Shepard are lovely and interestingly her dad, EH Shepard, was the artist who did the delightful illustrations for Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • Wolves of Willoughby Chase– A page-turner that rivaled any good Shirley Temple movie for melodrama and pathetic downtrodden kids who finally win the day. I loved this classic good-over-evil story.
  • Alice in Wonderland – An old friend.
  • 2. What books from your childhood would you like to share with [your] children?

    Why all of the above, of course! The great thing about kids is that you discover new favorites through your kids. So over the years, I have been able to enjoy many new reads because of them.

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

    I have re-read many of my favorites and found the P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins series and the Winnie-the-Pooh books to be particularly comforting to pick up when I first moved away from home. It was amazing how fast a chapter, read in bed after a particularly rough day in the ordinary workaday world, could ease any tension away.

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

    Ask my mom because I don’t remember. I think I was a pretty early reader however.

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

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I bought it at a yard sale when I was in the eighth grade and it was a compellingly grown-up read. I felt pretty sophisticated after I had read it through - as if I had finally stepped up to the big time.

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