Thursday, August 19, 2010

Books, Day 13 -- childhood reading

Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

Hands down my current favorite is the Harry Potter series, although I think it is a little too dark for many children (and that includes the movies -- some of the visuals would give a younger child nightmares, I think). While Rowling may have started the series as YA (young adult) one, it evolved into a series for all of us.

Despite its critics, the series is engaging, imaginative, and clearly is a metaphorical tale of good versus evil, even possibly a Christian allegory, at least in the views of some reviewers, and that despite the early boycotting of the books by the fundamentalist types because of the wizard/witch emphasis.

I love it because I want to believe in magic, I want to believe that bad people eventually get their just rewards (karma!), and I want to believe that ultimately good prevails over bad. And it does, although not without pain and loss.

Just like life. At least I hope that, although when I read the news and contemplate the actions of financiers, most Republicans and far too many Democrats, and leaders on every level in every part of business, I wonder where the magic is, where the good is, that will triumph over the self-serving, inhumane, greedy, judgmental actions that seem to be their creeds.

I want good, decent, kind people to prevail, the ones with ethics that are not compromised by the promise of a dollar, the ones who do not believe in trampling the rights of others in order to get rich or famous. Rowling delivers that.

The book(s) I remember best from my own childhood do too.

The first book I remember being read is "Wynken, Blynken and Nod," a story poem by Eugene Field. It was a tall, beautifully illustrated book with a red cover, and I gave it some years ago to my daughter, after I'd read it to her throughout her childhood. When my mother was in her last days, I remember reading it to her over the telephone. I still love the calming words, the rocking of the ocean, the rhyme and rhythm of the words lulling me to sleep.

I read constantly, always, as a child. I preferred the company of books and a story to playing outside or anything athletic (that's not changed). I remember hiding books behind my textbooks in class and more than once getting caught by a teacher, especially once in fourth grade when I giggled out loud at a passage during a history lesson. Busted.

I loved anything in a series: Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, the Bobbsey Twins, the Little House books. I loved Louisa May Alcott, especially Eight Cousins, and often wished I had such wonderful brothers/cousins instead of the bratty little brother that I was stuck with (and who I love dearly, you understand).

I read my way through the Brothers Grimm and every other fairy or folk tale collection in the Greene County (Missouri) Public Library Children's Section -- I love stories about magic, legend and myth, which also may account somewhat for my enthusiasm for Harry Potter, I suppose.

In fact, I read my way pretty much through the whole section, and by the time I was in fifth or sixth grade had permission from both my parents and the children's librarian to read anything I wanted from the adult section too. Fortunately they never believed in restricting access to anything -- a belief which I carried forward and ultimately became actively involved in protecting the right to read.

Books have shaped who I am, beginning with the books my parents read to me every day, books I remember still after going on 63 years. I am grateful.

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