Kate’s got a great meme on early reading, and it’s high time I did it.
1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
A frequent refrain in my answers will be “I don’t remember exactly,” but I’ll do my best. I think I learned to read in kindergarten, when I was five, although apparently I knew my letters much earlier. My dad tells this story about how I was going to school and going to school and going to school until one day I came home and picked up a book and out of the blue began reading. I have a memory of coming home from school and beginning to read out loud to my parents’ delight, so maybe my memory and my dad’s story refer to same thing, although there’s no knowing for sure.
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?
I have an early memory of owning a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle. I’m sure I owned others, but for some reason the huge stack of turtles sticks in my mind. Later I remember owning a complete set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books, the ones with the yellow covers that came in a yellow box. My friend had a set of the Little House books with blue covers and a blue box, and I was a little jealous as I liked the blue set better. I remember finding the Betsy-Tacy books in the library, as well as the Louisa May Alcott ones.
3. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?
I’m not entirely sure. I know I bought Nancy Drew books at some point, though, which I loved very much. But most often I got books from the library or read ones my parents owned. I was a very frequent library visitor as a child.
4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?
I most definitely was a re-reader. An obsessive re-reader, in fact. I practically had the Little House books memorized, as I really wanted to be Laura Ingalls. I re-read the Alcott books, Little Women and the others, including Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. Also I read the Anne of Green Gables books frequently. I think I re-read Nancy Drew books, and I’m sure I re-read the Betsy-Tacy books.
5. What’s the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
I don’t have a clear memory of this. But I do remember reading books from my dad’s bookshelves, so the first adult book was likely one of these. I know I read David Copperfield very early, so it’s quite possible Dickens was one of my earliest adult reads. I read Ayn Rand early on (shudder!).
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 read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was young, but I didn’t read the rest of the series until I was an adult. I can’t say I learned to love those though. Other children’s or young adult books I’ve read as an adult weren’t published when I was a child, such as the Philip Pullman books and Harry Potter (I’ve read only the first one of these). I somehow never found L.M. Montgomery’s Emily books as a child, and I still haven’t read them as an adult, so I think I’ll seek them out at some point. I never got into the Madeleine L’Engel books as a child, but I suspect I might like them now, so perhaps I should give those a try too.