Everywhere I look, there are children laughing and babies being pushed about in prams. Walking past those pudgy cheeks and gummy grins, I can’t help but wonder, as the days grow cooler and shorter, which books these young ones will soon cozy up with.

When I was a kid — pre-iPad, pre-ebook, pre-internet — I read. A lot. I nagged my parents incessantly to take me to the local public library and exhausted the collections on my primary-school shelves.

I learned to read with the adventures of Boyo and Carlo (the West Indian versions of Dick and Jane). My parents introduced me to the Grimm brothers, Aesop’s Fables, and Hans Christian Andersen, which opened my mind to the power of proverbs, and the sad truth that not all stories had a happy ending. Even now, the self-sacrifice of the Little Mermaid stays with me.

Blog 7 - Little Mermaid becoming sea foam.
Illustration from The Snow Queen and Other Stories
Edmund Dulac, illustrator. London: Hodder & Stoughton 1911.

I was quite content to fall into Robert Munsch’s odd little stories, the fun times of the Berenstein Bears, and as many Little Golden Books I could find. Shel Silverstein’s poems never failed to get a giggle out of me.

Invitation by Shel Silverstein
By Shel Silverstein; Image courtesy of Silver Birch Press

I was also very lucky to receive the gifts of words. My relatives often bought me books for Christmas and my birthday. I will never forget when, at the age of seven, I gleefully received a copy of Mary Poppins from one of my parents’ friends (it was her own copy gifted to me when she saw me pluck it from her bookshelf to read).

There was a diverse flow of literature at my fingertips. It was constant fuel for my love of literature and eventual desire to become a writer.

 

What were your favourite books when you were young? Did you love the classics, or did you find youthful joy in the obscure? Is there a particular book that you want the next generation of readers to get their hands on? I’d love to know!

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