Over at Kate's Book Blog, Kate is thinking about how we become readers and grow as readers, and has created a meme about early reading experiences. The questions are very interesting, as are her responses. Here are mine.
1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I learned to read when I was about 4. My most active teachers were Sesame Street and The Electric Company. I still believe that my early addiction to those two shows put me ahead of many other kids my age when it came to reading.
2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?
When I was very young we had a lot of Dr. Seuss books around the house, and other picture books I can't remember as well. But I don't really remember owning my own books until I was about 8 or 9. The first books I remember owning were Nancy Drew books. The first books I remember borrowing from the library were the Little House books and the Katie John books, though I'm sure I borrowed books from the library before those.
3. What's the first book you bought with your own money?
That's an easy one. Nancy Drew, probably somewhere around #30 or 40. I was completely addicted to Nancy Drew for about a year, maybe two. The only thing that cured my addiction was running out of books in the series. Then I moved on to Trixie Belden (who I ultimately liked better).
4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?
I don't remember being much of a re-reader when I was a child. I am now! But I was more eager to get the next book in the series, or to find a new series. I was sad when I found out that Louisa May Alcott was long dead and there were no more books by her. So when I did any re-reading at all, it was usually Alcott books.
5. What's the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
Somehow I got interested in Sherlock Holmes when I was about 12 or 13. This led me to Agatha Christie, and on to Alistair MacLean. By the time I emerged from those, I was pretty much done with children's books (except for Trixie) until college.
6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
One evening at the end of my sophomore year of college, when I should have been studying for finals, I ended up browsing the children's section of a local bookstore. That night I discovered a line of books published by Dell called Yearling Classics. It included titles I already knew (like Little Women and The Five Little Peppers) but also titles I'd never heard of that turned out to be wonderful books (Daddy-Long-Legs, Girl of the Limberlost, The Princess and the Goblin, etc). And that easily, just in leafing through and then reading a few of the books, I was hooked again on children's literature.
I went on to do my undergraduate thesis and my graduate work in children's literature. But during this time, I focused on a pretty narrow scope of books -- girls' books written in North America in the late 19th century or early 20th century. So there were so many children's books I was missing, even then. And I still have a lot of catching up to do.
So... what's your early reading story?