After writing about what got my two sons reading, I started thinking about the books that I read as a child. I have no idea what my parents read to me. But I do remember some of what I read myself. Getting a book for x-mas or b-days was a gift highlight. Usually we got practical gifts, but every once in a while someone found it in their hearts to give a book-hungry child just that. Even way back then I was addicted.
My parents had books from their own childhood that I got to read. These were everything from Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling to the Bobsey Twins. My heroes were Pippi Langstrømpe (Longstocking) and Nancy Drew. If I wanted to read something comforting and cozy, I would choose animal stories or Norway’s own Anne Cath. Vestly. Her books are wonderful for children, describing life as it is without sugar-coating anything.
If I wanted to be frightened, I would read folk tales. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were favorites. I would sneak read HCA because my parents had a lovely leather-bound edition of his tales, and we were not allowed to touch it without permission. Folk tales are gory, explicit and seldom “happily ever after”. Horror for children and adults would probably be an appropriate category to place them in.
Sometimes I tried to read the books my parents liked, but they weren’t all that interesting for a child. Madame Bovary and I Saw Him Die just didn’t appeal to me the same way Jungle Boy did.
There were many important lessons reading taught me. One was that it was OK to read a book twice. Nature was fascinating. Reading the end before I had finished the whole book was also just fine (no lightning strikes). If life got to be too much, a book would lighten the load. Subject matter, complexity or level did not matter. Help was to be found for a lonely little girl. No wonder I love books so much.