This Boomer looks back fondly on the books I read and grew up with. I love to read and began reading and having books read to me at an early age. Looking back, Boomers were truly blessed with good reading material, and for most of us, the habit of reading has continued.
The first book I can recall was a hard cover collection of English nursery rhymes. My mother or my grandmother read to me every night before bedtime. Some of the rhymes I remember include: This Little Piggy; Jack Spratt; Little Bo Peep; Mary Had a Little Lamb; Little Miss Muffet; Baa, Baa, Black Sheep; The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe; Three Blind Mice; Hickory Dickory Dock; Ten Little Indians; Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater; Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary; Jack and Jill; Simple Simon; Hey Diddle, Diddle; Jack Be Nimble; The Itsy, Bitsy Spider and so many others. At age six or so, I was given a copy of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and to this day I can recite every line.
One of the first real books I can recall reading myself was The Wizard of Oz. It was a hardbound book, maybe 100 pages, and I read it in second grade as an assignment. I remember giving an oral report to the class. I must have done well because I can vividly recall the expressions of my fellow classmates, fully engaged, as I described the Emerald City and the woes of the Tin Man et al.
In those days, teachers read to students as part of the class. In fourth grade – if we behaved ourselves – Ms. Williams read from the Miss Minerva series of books and we all howled in laughter as William Greenhill and his sidekicks stayed in and out of trouble while the prim Miss Minerva presided. My 4th grade history book was one of my school books as I learned more about all the men that made this country great.
The Little Golden Books were popular as my youngers brothers and sister came along. I was 12 or so, by that time, but I listened nonetheless as Mom or Dad read The Poky Little Puppy, Little Black Sambo, Tootle, The Billy Goats Gruff, Scuffy the Tugboat, The Little Engine That Could, The Yellow Cat and dozens of others.
By 6th and 7th grade, I enjoyed the Zane Grey books, the Hardy Boy books and Ol’ Yeller (I cried my eyes out!).
As much as I enjoyed being read to, I have always loved reading to my children, and now, to my grandchildren. I have the complete Tales of Uncle Remus and my 5 grandkids love to hear me read the stories of Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox almost as much as I enjoy reading them.
For Boomers, books were and still are special. They were an important link between parents and children, and those family memories will last forever.