Someone asked me recently for the name of the first book I ever read. I kind of just looked at them blankly, because I couldn’t remember specifics. I mean, I know I’ve been reading all my life, and my parents read to me as a little kid before I was even able to string letters together to form words… But to provide the name of the FIRST book I ever read was impossible. Even now, after having thought about it for a while, I still can’t come up with an answer I’m confident is true. But there are a few books I do remember from my early childhood…
First up is an illustrated book that I absolutely adored called The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, by Morris Lurrie.
If memory serves, this book was about a really tiny girl who was so small that she slept in a shoebox. Her parents were concerned that she wasn’t growing so they took her to a doctor who told her to eat “long” foods to help her grow longer. She ate things like long spaghetti and long liquorice, and she avoided all “short” foods. But still she didn’t end up getting any bigger. I can’t remember the middle part of the story, but I do know that in the end, someone told her parents to get her a normal-sized bed to sleep in. And voilà! Like magic, as soon she started sleeping in the proper bed, she began to grow. (Jeez, looking at the story-concept now, there are so many metaphors in this book for life and boundaries that we place on ourselves… Kids’ books rock!).
Another book I loved was called Little Bear’s Trousers by Jane Hissey.
I can’t actually recall if it was my brother or I who loved this book more, but it’s burned into my memory with fond recollection, so either way, it played an important role in my early childhood reading-ness. This book was about a teddy bear who lost his trousers and had to go around to all his toy friends and ask them if they’d seen them. I’m pretty sure all those toys had used the trousers for their own hobbies and whatnot before passing them on to other toys. (For example, I vividly remember one of the toys using the trousers to pipe icing on a cake… and when Little Bear found out, he was distraught to realise that his trousers were probably all icky with icing). But don’t worry – everything turned out well in the end with the bear being reunited with his trousers.
Franklin in the Dark by Paulette Bourgeois is another one I remember from when I was really young too.
This book particularly resonated with me because, like I was at one young stage, little Franklin the turtle was afraid of the dark. Honestly, I can’t remember much about this book, but the pictures were nice and colourful!
I’m sure I could go on and on about other books I loved as a really young child, but I’ll skip ahead to when I moved on from picture books and began reading actual book-books. I can’t remember how old I was, all I know is that I (strangely, in hindsight) read a number of the Goosebumps books (by R.L. Stine) before I became absolutely obsessed with The Saddle Club books (by Bonnie Bryant). I was a crazy, crazy horse girl back then too, so I pretty much read anything equine-related that I could get my hands on (fiction and non-fiction). The Saddle Club had an offshoot series called Pony Pals that I read a few of as well, though I didn’t like them as much… But as I grew “older” (we’re talking around nine-to-elevenish years of age, btw) I also began to read the Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell. I wasn’t much into horse racing, but the first book in that series (“A Horse Called Wonder”) drew me in until I was hooked.
So, I spent a huge amount of time reading the gazillions of books in both The Saddle Club series and Thoroughbred series. (And after I devoured those, I spent a huge amount of time with the actual real-life horse that I somehow managed to convince my parents to get me – BEST PARENTS EVER!!!!).
During all that, I stumbled upon a new literary genre love – fantasy. And that was mostly thanks to a curriculum requirement at my school. I was probably about eleven or twelve when everyone in my class was told to read a book called Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody.
To be perfectly honest, I absolutely hated the first few chapters. I hated that I was being forced to read a book that I really, really didn’t want to read. I mean, come on. There were no horses in it at all! (And at that time, that was a major drawcard for me). But when I finally accepted the fact that I was going to be graded on my review (or whatever I had to do for the class) and I settled in to actually give the story a go, an entire new world opened up to me. It was beautiful. I fell in love with the world Carmody had created and the characters I met along the way.
I only had to read the first book in the series for the class project, but of course that wasn’t enough to appease my new addiction. I went out and got my hands on as many books in the series as I could (which back then I think was only three or four) and I loved them just as much as the first. But when they were done, I was in trouble. Because what would I read next?
Well, as fortune would have it, not long after that a friend tried to convince me to give her new favourite series a go. She waxed poetic about these books, of which there were only three released by that stage, all about a young boy who went to a magical school (guess what series that could be?). But as much as she went on and on about how good the books were, I just wasn’t interested in reading about an eleven-year-old boy, regardless of the fact that I was around that age myself. She didn’t give up no matter how many times I told her I wasn’t interested, and eventually a time came when I needed her to do something for me and in return she made me promise to read the first three chapters of the first book in the series.
Needless to say, I was quickly enchanted by the magic of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and the rest, as they say, is history. My love for the fantasy genre grew right alongside my love for Harry and his friends.
So, yeah, that’s a brief account of my reading history. Of course, there are a tonne of other books that have influenced me so much over the course of my life that I’ve left out of this post, but we can get to them another day. And that’s mostly because there’s a shiny new book sitting innocently beside me right now and calling my name, so I’m off to have some good, quality reading time! Woohoo! (I LOVE holidays!!! Reading, reading, reading!!!)