Sunday, November 19, 2006

early reading meme

Kate of Kate's Book Blog started this meme--look here for her own post and a set of links to other reader/bloggers who have chimed in.
1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I think I was 4--I already knew how to read when I went to kindergarten. I sort of learned how by myself, since my mother found out when she caught me reading headlines from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. There's an apocryphal story that I asked her what "murder" meant, and of her snatching the paper away, and so forth, but who knows? I don't remember learning how to read, and in fact, don't remember not being able to read. I wish I did--I'd like to get the feel of the turn, when letters and sounds coalesced and became words, and the connection that these words on the page were the same as those spoken by my parents and cousins and my friend Barbara next door.
I remember always feeling friendly about words--liking them sometimes just for themselves, their sound (silver, princess) or even how they looked on the page (late, amuse, road). But even though my mother didn't set out to be my reading teacher, she was, for she bought books, and she read books to me and my sister, giving us a vision of reading as a pool we might dip into.
2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?
My sister and I got books as presents for every Christmas and birthday, many of which I still own, and in fact can see from where I'm sitting at the keyboard: Caddie Woodlawan, The Little Lame Prince, Heidi, Robinson Crusoe. I don't remember which of these came first, although I remember reading The Little Lame Prince under our play table, sitting with my back straight and my head not touching the table's underside, which means I must have still been pretty small. I loved it not only for the stories, but also for the pictures of the prince flying over the land on his magical fur cape (I wanted one--it was obvious to me that I was never going to be able to fly on my plaid woolen winter coat).
The Betsy Tacy books were among the 1st books I took out from the library--I remember my glee when I found out that there were a lot of them. I wanted to hoard them, to make them last longer, but it's not in my nature, and I read them all as fast as I could.
3. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?
I never thought of buying books myself until I was in high school. This was also when I started having money of my own, an allowance that was for busfare and lunches. I started going to my 1st bookstore love, Schroeder's, which was on Cleveland's Public Square in a now-demolished building (where the BP building is now). I have an idea they sold other things, but I don't remember what, because I always went to the back where they had racks of paperbacks. I know I bought Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'urbervilles there (I still have it) and a book about philosophy, which I thought I wanted to know more about (I didn't, but I still have that, too).
4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you reread most often?
I was definitely a re-reader, and still am. I shamelessly read for plot on first reading, and whether I reread or not when I already know what happens is a mark of how much I like a book. Anne of Green Gables might have been the 1st re-read--I got another one in the series, and wanted to read the beginning of Anne's story before I went on. Among my recent re-reads: Lady Oracle, because I heard Margaret Atwood read at the library and someone mentioned it in the Q&A; one of Helen MacInnes's spy thrillers; Muriel Spark's Loitering With Intent; and James Baldwin's Another Country.
5. What's the 1st adult book that captured your interest, and how old were you when you read it?
The 1st was War and Peace, but although I opened it up several times before I was 10, and read some pages, I didn't actually read a substantial part until I was a teenager, and I didn't finish it until I was in my late 20s. A better candidate for this question is The Winthrop Woman, which was included in one of the volumes of Reader's Digest Condensed Books in my parents' bookcase. I was probably 11 or 12, old enough to have inklings about sex, but not old enough to understand the allusions to it in the book--I knew something was going on, but I couldn't figure out what had these people so het up. (Maybe I should re-read it--that might be interesting.)
6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
I never learned to love Tolkien--I didn't read him young, and when I tried him later, it didn't take. But I love the Narnia books, which I didn't read until I was an adult (except for The Silver Chair, which my sister got as a birthday present)--I've probably re-read them half a dozen times.
This is a volunteerish kind of meme--so please chime in.


Blogger je m'amuse said...

I finished this meme myself today. It was quite fun.

11/19/2006 2:55 PM  
Blogger C(h)ristine said...

what a cool meme! i posted mine!

11/21/2006 1:02 AM  
Blogger Gina Ventre said...

I was just thinking about doing a post about this today and now I have a meme to lend structure.

Caddie Woodlawn! I loved that book.

Anne of Green Gables was a re-read for me too...over and over and over and over.

11/21/2006 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I so remember loving words for how they sounded and looked as a child. (I still do.) Split and choose were two favorites. I loved Anne of Green Gables so much.

11/21/2006 11:42 PM  
Blogger K-Oh said...

I still don't know what a meme is!

But I love these questions and answers. I also read Anne of Green Gables and the Narnia books dozens of times-- still do occasionally when I've read a bunch of things that seem sluggish. Those books restart my engine.

11/23/2006 2:08 PM  
Blogger teabird17 said...

I can't believe that someone else remembers (and loved) The Little Lame Prince - I mentioned it in my response to this blog, too. It's probably way too saccharine for today's children -

My answers are on my reading blog -

11/24/2006 2:42 PM  

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