Friday, May 11, 2007

Golden Books Are Forever



Stories like this one from California librarian Julie Winkelstein can sometimes make my whole day.










My granddaughter (and daughter) came to stay for a few days last week. Now that she is 19 months old, books are becoming increasingly important to Maddie. To get ready for their visit, I pulled out some of the children's books I have been saving since my daughters were young.
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Maurice Sendak's "One was Johnny" is one of the books I put out. This tiny toddler-sized tome was part of a set of three, although I have no idea where the other ones are. My daughter immediately recognized it, and was excited to realize it is actually her old copy. "I taught myself to read with this book," she told me.

Tired of waiting for someone to read it to her, she had set herself down and -- having memorized most of it -- used it to figure out just how to make words on the page into words she could read. As she began reciting it from memory, my youngest daughter and I were able to join in -- some things you never forge
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I was amazed, and it made me think about all those early books that had such an impact on me, the ones whose words are there in my head somewhere. I can't help wondering what kind of impact these books had on my life. Have they shaped me in some way? Does the fact I can recite "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "The Little Red Hen" give insight into who I am? And what does it mean that some of my friends share the same book memories? As a librarian, parent and grandparent, I would say the biggest significance to this is the importance of choosing memorable and appealing books for our children.
Reading this made me realize that I can still clearly picture in my mind some of the books that I read as five-year-old and even recall a few of the words if I really concentrate. I'm sure that my love of reading was born right there in all those Golden Books that I was lucky enough to call my own before I started school. And that's exactly why we keep dozens of children's books here at the house for when the three grandkids come to visit or to stay with us overnight. Exposure to books and to reading cannot start too early and that's a gift that will last a lifetime.

10 comments:

  1. My wife and I read to our 9 month old daughter every night before she goes to bed. Right now she's more interested in playing with the books, but I know that will change. I hope that we can instill in her a love of books and turn her into a life-long avid reader.

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  2. How absolutely adorable! And...I agree 100%, you can never start too early and it's a gift that lasts a lifetime! :)

    Just thought of this: Not only does it last a lifetime, but it guides or steers your lifetime.

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  3. We didn't have many books when I was younger because we couldn't afford them. We also couldn't afford babysitters so I went everywhere with my parents. One family friend had a lot of kids books and I spent many eveneings reading them - I credit that to my love of reading.

    So now, as I'm building my personal library, I make sure to include a childrens book every now and then for when kids come to my home.

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  4. This is so pertinent to a post I just wrote about the very first book I ever fell in love with, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema. I memorized that entire book and I still remember it. That book is the one of the reasons that I'm a life-long reader.

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  5. Matt, my own experience and everything I've read about it indicates that you're doing exactly the right thing. Have fun!

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  6. Joy, I agree. Isn't it strange (and great)that such an early positive influence like being exposed to books can set you off on the road that you follow for the rest of your life?

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  7. Very cool, Anne. That's a great thing to be doing for kids. Sounds like you were very influenced by the kindness of others who shared books with you at that age. Passing on that kindness is the best thing you could possibly do. :-)

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  8. I know I'm a reader because of my early experiences being read to, and looking through picture books--and all those hours my mom, brother and I spent in the library. I can still remember some of the words from a few children's books, too. Thanks for the lovely post!

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  9. J.S., I find it very reassuring that so many of us can still recall the key, early books that helped to turn us into the people that we are today. I'm on my way to read your post on the subject...

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  10. Gentle Reader, I'm not surprised that so many of us feel such an affection for certain books from our childhood. Readers, I think, tend to be a fairly introspective bunch of people who think about this kind of thing. I'm happy that the post struck a chord with so many folks. :-)

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