Do you still have any books from your childhood? I was interviewed on Tuesday as part of a promotional campaign for Ozarks Literacy Council. The one and only question was, “What was your favorite book as a child, and why?”
My answer was that I had no single favorite. When I was little, my parents read to me, Mom with feeling, Dad with silly sound effects. I heard all the classics — Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Little Pigs, Mother Goose — because that was what my parents and family members bought for me. A bit later came Wizard of Oz, Bambi, and Winnie the Pooh, and those segued into Hardy Boys and a tendency toward nonfiction, mostly science.
Just before the folks arrived to do the video I went to the basement and straight to the box I remembered carrying down there not so long ago. In it were the books I just mentioned, some dated when Aunt Eva or Uncle Wayne or Aunt Helen or someone else who loved me enough to give me a book presented them to me starting back when I was six or seven.
As for the second part of the question, the “why,” a whole science has developed about how and why children learn to read. It is the one that begins with the obvious: few can survive and prosper in a world that demands that we be literate. But I think the question in this case was directed toward motivation: why did I like a particular book, any book in the first place. Why do any of us like a particular book?
In my case, books became my guides and trusted companions. I loved them because they were unchanging and always there. I loved them because in the beginning they were introduced to me by the two most important people in my world. The sheer joy of being read to pulled me forward and made me eager to learn how to read by myself.
What about the rest of you? Did you have a favorite childhood book, and why? Do you still have it/them?