Friday, December 9, 2011

First Books, First Pets, First Memories

As JoAnn and Esther have posted this week, we are celebrating the holidays with memories of first books and a tribute to FirstBook.
My mom grew up in a bookless home.  She told me that one day her father did some janitorial work at a school and splurged on a steeply discounted set of Dick and Jane.  These were then the only books in her house.  No wonder she did not grow up a reader!  My dad, on the other hand, was raised in a family of voracious readers.  My grandmother always had a thick book in hand -- Maeve Binchy, Rosamunde Pilcher, Danielle Steele.  For my grandfather, it was Max Brand and Louis L'Amour.  [When he got Alzheimer's, he could reread the complete set and be surprised every time.] My dad reads widely -- right now he is on a Stephen Hunter and Lee Child kick, but he can do a book a day, so he's pretty much read it all. 

Pop fiction is our thing (clearly), and I was initially going to blog about the first book I remember reading -- it was a Bobbsey Twins book and it was a Christmas gift from my grandparents (dad's side, of course) the year I was six.  My mom discovered the joy of reading when she read me that book aloud, so I think it was a momentous experience for us both.

I honestly don't think I was read to as a toddler. I don't remember being exposed to picture books at all until I got to school.  But as I think about it, there was one in our house.  The year I was five, my mom and I read it over, and over, and over.  It was called Peppermint, about a kitten that lived in a candy store.  All of Peppermint's candy-named siblings were quickly adopted, but nobody wanted poor, skinny, dusty Peppermint.  Of course Peppermint found a home in the end.  I just had to google the author of the book and discovered many threads of grown-ups looking for a copy of the book that they read so many times and loved so fondly.  Copies are retailing in the area of $50/apiece. 

My first pet was thus a black molly fish named (you guessed it) Peppermint.  However, after reading Peppermint, I desperately wanted a pet that I could actually pet.  When I was in sixth grade, we finally put the fish behind us and became a dog family.  This weekend, we Fords will do the same as we welcome a pup named Molly to our family.  This Christmas my daughter is the same age that I was when I unwrapped that fateful Bobbsey Twins book.  Together we have just begun discovering the joys of Ramona.   

Our house is overrun by books.    However, millions of children live in homes without books.

But FirstBook is trying to change that by providing books to children in need.

How can you help us help these millions of children eager to own their very own books?


Simply post one comment on our blog from now through December 31. Tell us about your first book, your child’s or grandchild’s first book, why books are important, why children should own their own books.

You can help us spread the word.

You can even make your own FirstBook Donation.

For every comment we receive (one per person, please, and spam doesn’t count), we’ll donate $1 to First Book.

We’ll keep track of comments from now until the end of the year; we’ll post periodic updates; and we’ll donate up to $225. Every $2.50 donated provides a brand-new book to a child in need. And through Dec. 31, Disney Publishing Worldwide will match every $1 donated with another new book.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the wonderful memories you have already shared this week!


Michelle said...

WOW! I had that book, Peppermint! I loved it. Hadn't seen it or thought of it in years.

I always think of my "first" book as A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak. It is the first book I remember being able to read all the way through by myself.

Anonymous said...

My first book, or at least one I remember from when i was very small was called 'Little Engine out west' i think, and it was about the railroads meeting up in the middle of America. (I'm from the UK so the concept didn't mean much, but then i was very young so I enjoyed the story anyway) It was a style of illustration I wouldn't go near now, I feel a bit guilty about that ;-)
Another book was called 'Pusscat's Washing' and was about pusscat losing her washing and going round retrieving it piece by piece from the other animals who were using it in funny and sweet ways. Baby hedgehogs wearing socks as hats for instance.
Once I started to read for myself, Paddington Bear was my favourite, along with William books by Richmal Crompton. My mum still had the ones she read as a child. I still have most of them to this day. I often wonder how he would have coped with adult life. Not well I feel.
anyway, that's me.
Jonathan Allen

Valerie Larson-Howard said...

I cannot remember exactly what my first book was, but I remember loving the Berenstein Bears and Richard Scary's BusyTown. It is so great to now read these books to my kids. However, the books that has stuck with me the most over the years are the Trixie Beldon mysteries. As a preteen, I loved reading about a heroine who was intelligent and fearless. I also loved "meeting" a girl who was not quite a tomboy, but not fully "girly" either - much like myself.

Mrs. Mazurowski said...

My favorite book growing up was part of Encyclopedia Brittanica, called We Learn About Other Children. It has black and white photographs of children in other countries. I remember that the French Canadian children were my favorite because they made treats from snow and maple syrup. I claimed the book when I found out that my mom still had it after all these years.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

I'm not sure it was my first book, but I dearly loved The Velveteen Rabbit, and I read it over and over again to the little girl who lived next door. We're still best friends.

Unknown said...

Not sure about my first book - books have been in my life since my baby days - but I do remember checking In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak from the library when my first library card when I was in preschool. Loved Maurice Sendak - and love reading his books to my kids now!

What an awesome post this is!!

Monica Zepeda said...

The first book I remember reading was The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. I LOVED this book and it's probably responsible for turning me into a cat lady.