Childhood Books

Reading Cindyís piece sparked a period of reflection for me. Iíve always loved to read and would reach for anything in print, but my resources were limited. We lived in a small town with no library and our elementary school ìlibrariesî consisted of donated books placed on short shelves in the back of classrooms. Even though I read voraciously, I remember few of those books. The only one that sticks in my mind is Little Women. I identified with Meg, but secretly wanted to be more like Jo. I cried both in shock and disbelief when Beth died. Up until that time, I did not know that book characters could die.

My favorite books did not come from libraries, however. They came as gifts. I have fond memories of many birthdays and Christmases spent curled up in an overstuffed chair reading my latest copy of a Nancy Drew book. What joy! Nancy Drew was elegant! She was smart. She was independent. She drove her own car. She had supportive girl friends (I was always intrigued by one of the names, because George should have been a boyís name.). Her boyfriend was a romantic figure who played football at the college he attended nearby. Her lawyer father always responded to her requests. In the process of gathering clues and solving mysteries, she went to delightful tea rooms and had luscious picnic lunches prepared by a trusty housekeeper.

I have since read thousands of childrenís books, including most of the award winners over many years, and I have seen criticsí criticisms of Nancy and her series. They say the plots were based on worn-out formulas; that Nancy was too independent, too adventurous, too upper-class. I say ìHogwash!î at least about the original books published before 1959. These were the books I read and loved. I am grateful to have had Nancy Drew in my life. She was a familiar and dependable friend during my preteen and early teen years.

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One Response to “Childhood Books”

  1. Yes, Phyllis! Isn't it amazing how "real" books' characters become? I will never forget David in "David and the Phoenix" and wished I could have such a noble bird as companion and confidant.

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