Tag: reading

March 21, 2013 /

Daily Prompt: Bedtime Stories

What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?

crimsonI have no recollection of being read to at bedtime. I do remember reading absolutely anything that I could lay my hands on once I could read for myself. I doubt that I had a favourite book, it is not in my nature to do “favourites”,  but I do remember avidly reading my way through Andrew’ Lang’s “coloured” Fairy Books, which I would take out of the school library. These clearly left an impression on me as I have recently been buying the Folio editions for my bookshelves!

I went to the Public Library each Saturday morning and took my three books out from there, too. There were some books at home – I recall a scattering of Ladybird books  (we had relatives who worked at the factory) and Little Black Sambo books. No Peter Rabbit at our house, we were far too working class for that type of thing.

No one book influenced the person that I am now. It is the  totality of my reading that has brought me to where and who that I am. I read absolutely anything and everything as I was growing up. Books that I recall with fondness are Anne Frank’s Diary, Anne of Green Gables, Little House in the Big Wood, Little Women and its sequels, E Nesbitt’s Bastable books, and the Psammead ones of course, not to mention The Railway Children.  It was Little Women that had the most obviously lasting effect and is no doubt the reason that I chose to call myself Beth, rather than by my given name of Elizabeth. I so wanted to be tragic Beth when I was young.

I read rubbish too: Famous Five and Secret Seven books from Enid Blyton, the Chalet School series and similar series about boarding schools, princesses and ballet dancers and so on. I simply read any book that I could find, and issues of quality did not figure – books were a scarce resource.

Having read my way through the Junior library by the time that I was 11, I had to get a special dispensation to join the Adult library. Oh, I read some tosh then! Alistair MacLean, Dennis Wheatley, the entire shelf of yellow-backed Gollancz Sci Fi… Lady Chatterley, Fanny Hill… but Lorna Doone holds fast in my memory, and The Scarlet Letter affected me deeply, pushing me gently in the Feminist direction that I would take as an adult.

I did not grow up to be a spy, or a devil worshipper, nor yet an Astronaut – though I freely admit to having quite got the hang of enjoying the old bedroom activities. Overall, I was learning the love of the written word and to embed reading in my daily life. I have never once regretted that.

It was about this time that I read the whole of Hiawatha too:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Even now, it raises goosebumps. I fell in love with poetry at a very early age and I still try to read some new poetry each day, if I can.

Oh, and I did read to my own children and bought them books… despite the lack of example I had as a small child.

Further Reading: