Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The 80's As Remembered by Me, Through Books

Having been born in the 80's, it's one of my favorite decades - even though I can't remember a whole lot of it. That said, let's take a look at what I consider the top 5 titles that shaped my future love of reading at such an impressionable age.

1. 'The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary'

No early childhood list is complete without the title that taught you how to read and if it weren't for this title I probably wouldn't have. Hours in the living room with my parents patiently teaching me how to sound things out. 

I owe this cat, and my parents, a debt of gratitude.

2. 'The Story of Dr. Dolittle' by Hugh Lofting

Once I learned how to read, it's really all I wanted to do. I begged and begged for something to read and my dad came home with this.

I think I read it in a night and my mom quickly ended up having to add "bring Jess to the library" to her list of chores.

Unfortunately, I don't remember a whole lot about Dr. Dolittle or his animal companions. Aside from the fact that he could somehow communicate with them and magically make them better. But I guess that's all one really needs to know about this guy, isn't it?

3. Childcraft: The How and Why Library 15 Volume Set 

Does anyone else remember these things?  I'm pretty sure my mom bought them one or two at a time from the grocery store, but I know I owned all 15 of them, (actually, I'm pretty sure I still own all 15 of them, but now their in a box in someone's attic or basement), and I know I read every page.

For me, these books were absolutely fascinating. Pictures of ligers, articles about how the Native Americans or Ancient Romans lived, and amazing facts like people are animals*. Hours were spent with these books. I loved them.

4. 'Black Beauty' by Anna Sewell

'Black Beauty' was one of the last titles I would read in the 80's and not only was it depressing as all hell, but it taught me that both the children I went to school with at the time and the teacher could be insensitive, cruel and dumb as rocks.

I won't get into too many details, but first grade is one of the many reasons why I'm happy that I didn't end up finishing out school in the backwoods town we were living in at the time. Where I left, they told me that this book was too complicated and boring for the class to understand, and no one else my age had even heard of the title before I brought it in for show and tell.

Where I ended up it had been on the recommended reading list.

5. 'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien 

One of the coolest things I remember at that age was visiting my first book store. What made the experience even cooler was that the bookstore in question was owned by my mom's best friends husband!

I imagine it was for me what most kids experience the first time they go to Disney. I was overwhelmed enough that I turned to the adults and asked them what I should read. Someone handed me this, it was awesome, and the rest, as they say, is history.

*So let me tell you a little story about the day I was invited to Sunday school. The girl across the street was a catholic and I was sorta friends with her, so when her church decided it wanted to open its class up to all the heathens for a day (i.e. Jews and other non-affiliated kids in our dust speck of a town), I was invited to go. And off we went to the basement of a church that had been decorated up like a kindergarten nursery and were told the story of Noah. 

Oh the heartache! Oh the tragedy!

"Any questions?" asks the teacher. Yup! I've got one, "If all the animals drowned, did they go to heaven?"

"No! Animals don't o to heaven, they don't have souls!" Ummmm.... "But people are animals, so people didn't go to heaven either?"

"No! People are special - we have blah, blah, blah - God decides and...." followed by a ton more garbage that I can't remember, and I just kept getting more and more upset until I think my mom had to physically drag me out of there kicking and screaming.

Not so ironically, it's the day I became an atheist.

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