Today is Children’s Book Day. A day that promotes books to children. It also marks the birthday of Hans Christen Anderson, author to famous fairy tales such as The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, and The Emperor’s New Clothes. And you can’t think about Children’s Book Day without reflecting upon the books you read as a child. You just can’t.
I started reading at a young age. I can’t remember my absolute first book (and if you can, I’m impressed), but the first book I remember enjoying was Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol; book 1 of what would become a long-lasting series (1963-2011, 28 books). I read every book my school library had in the series at least twice. I was too young (I must’ve been in the 2nd or 3rd grade) to head to the library myself so I don’t think I read any more of the series past Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand (#11), but this was the series that grew my love of reading, and mystery. Oh, yes. I became a huge mystery buff because of this series. I guess my hope was to become as smart as Encyclopedia. And what a cool name! Weird, but cool. I swear, while other girls my age were day dreaming about being a princess or finding prince charming (stereotypical, I know, but I had girl cousins who had this day dream) I was day dreaming about solving mysteries. Oh, I day dreamed about solving mysteries and living a secret life as a witch. Not the bad kind of witch, but the good kind. I kid you not. I wanted to be uber smart with magical powers.
For some reason, my Encyclopedia faze didn’t upgrade to the Hardy Boys. I think it’s because I didn’t want to betray my loyalty to Encyclopedia. Ridiculous? Probably, but it’s the truth. Instead, my older elementary years found me reading The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin. And probably because I was the oldest and was always in charge of watching my younger siblings and relatives. I was a subscriber of their newsletter and everything. Their honey bread rolls (pieces of bread with the crusts cut off with honey poured like a spread and then rolled) are genius!
Shortly after my Baby-Sitter’s Club faze, I found author L. J. Smith. Oh gosh. I loved all her books! I read The Secret Circle (#1-3), The Vampire Diaries (#1-4), and Dark Visions (#1-3) in quick succession. Out of the three series she wrote, my absolute favorite is Dark Visions. Followed closely by The Secret Circle and The Vampire Diaries in third. So, psychics, witches, and the supernatural have made up my interests for most of my life, 😉 .
And while realistic fiction (is that a genre? In case it isn’t, I define realistic fiction as fiction based on reality. What an oxymoron! And if that didn’t help, it’s fiction that doesn’t have any supernatural or fantastical flare) isn’t quite my thing, I fell in love with Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver. It was the first book I remembered being intense for me and I must have reread it at least three times, which was a big deal. That was the last book I remember rereading more than once until A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. You’re talking 1992 to 2008.
Oh, and fiction wasn’t the only thing I read for the heck of it. Nope. Not by a long shot. Somewhere in my childhood my father encouraged me to expand my reading palette. He suggested I read non-fiction books. And while I didn’t realize it then, the titles he mentioned were self help books or business books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad. So I read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom my freshmen year of high school and Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard in my junior year and not because they were assigned or I was forced to, but because I found them interesting. I remember reflecting upon Tuesdays With Morrie a lot. I found the ideas and discussions interesting. A bit heavy for a 14-year old? Probably, but I ate it up and journaled my thoughts.
Children’s Book Day. A day to encourage reading and promote the love of books to children. Sure I remember loving the usuals like Dr. Seuss (Green Eggs and Ham is my favorite childhood book. Today, it’s Oh, the Places You Go which was published in 1990, but I didn’t discover until 2010) and Bernstein Bears (just about everyone I picked up because I thought the stories were pretty cool teaching about manners and stuff), but the books I remember enjoying the most during my childhood were the ones I mentioned. I believe that whether a book is fiction or not, doesn’t take away from what you experience when you read through it. And I believe it’s truly important to start reading at a young age, to engage children in reading as soon as it’s possible. And if they’re not a big fan of words, there are comics, graphic novels, and even audiobooks.
Reading enriches lives. It just does.