Growing up reading
by Susanna Reich, author of Minette's Feast
Most authors were avid readers as children, and I’m no exception. My reading habit began early, when my parents would tuck me in to bed with a pile of picture books. Nowadays I tuck myself in, but I still like to “settle my brains” with a good book. Here’s a baker’s dozen of favorites from childhood:
- The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
- The Story of Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff
- Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
- Curious George, by Margaret and H.A. Rey
- Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
- A Hole Is to Dig, by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
- Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag
- So’m I, by Ted Key, illustrated by Frank Owen
- Nono, The Baby Elephant, by Inez Hogan
- Animal Lore and Disorder, by James Riddell
- The Lovely Summer, by Marc Simont
- Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
- Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
Fairy tales were part of our diet, too. I especially loved our edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Swineherd and The Tinder Box, illustrated by Gustav Hjortlund and translated by R.P. Keigwin. We also read poetry, and I took great pride in being able to recite many of the poems in A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six.
The first book I read on my own was The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss. I memorized it first, then spoke it aloud as I turned the pages. Eventually, the mysterious black marks on the page began to take on meaning as letters and words. I began reading on my own and fell in love with Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and, later, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I also read comic books, maps, series fiction like Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, and nonfiction, especially books about dance. We visited the public library regularly, returning home with our arms weighed down by stacks of books.
My parents modeled reading, as well. Mommy spent hours at her desk, reading scholarly books related to her work as a teacher and music historian. Daddy, after a long day in the physics lab, would settle into a comfy chair after supper and disappear behind the New York Times or Scientific American. My parents subscribed to Life magazine, and I “read” the pictures before I could read the words. We got The New Yorker, too, and by twelve I was reading it cover to cover. There weren’t many YA books back then, so at that point I moved on to books for adults and never looked back.
There’s no guarantee that if you read to your child, take her to the library, and model reading for her, she will become an author. But this much I know: books and reading can endow her with knowledge, imagination, a good vocabulary—and strong arms!
Thank you so much, Susanna! Your memories really bring me back to days when I used to escape behind the couch, lost in my favorite book, hiding from everyone else in my family. The books we read when we are young really do leave a lasting impression.
Free giveaway of Minette's Feast!
Susanna is offering to give away a free copy of Minette's Feast. To enter your name in a drawing to win a free, signed copy of Minette's Feast, please email Susanna with the subject line "Minette's Feast giveaway." One entry per person, please. Winners will be selected at random on May 31.
Please read more about Minette's Feast at my review here, and make sure to stop by other blogs celebrating this delightful book. For more information on the Minette's Feast blog tour, head over to Susanna's site. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.
©2012 Susanna Reich
Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books