First of all I would like to compliment you, Denise, on coming up with a brilliant thread.
The idea of sharing memories connected with books is perfect for this forum. I had to take my time to think about just exactly what I wanted to share and now I've decided.
The first book I ever got that wasn't mostly pictures was when I was about four years old. An elderly neighbor lady, who remained a dear friend to me until the day she died, gave me a book called, not coincidentally, Tommy and the Wishing Stone
by Thornton W. Burgess
. I think she bought it for me not just because I had the same name as the main character but because she knew how much I loved animals and animals were a big part of the story. I had to wait until I learned how to read before I could read it myself but that will always be a cherished memory for me.
The other memory I wanted to share involves the tremendous rewards of reading aloud to young children. I don't have any children myself and, at our age, it seems unlikely the Theresa and I ever will. Still, I know the rewards of this firsthand. When I was 13, I was embarrassingly bad at reading out loud. I read a lot but, when it came to reading out loud in class, I became nervous and ended up coming across like an illiterate which left me humiliated. It seemed I was destined to always be considered a half-wit by my peers.
None of this was the reason I started reading to my little brother. I just loved books so much I wanted to share them with somebody. Paul was five at the time and I knew his attention span wasn't quite up to the books I wanted to read him but I wasn't about to let that stop me so I pretty much forced him to sit and listen. I guess I was just cruel. I started him with the Chronicles of Narnia
by CS Lewis
. He fidgeted his way through The Magicians Nephew
but we managed to get through it. He sat quietly and listened to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
and by the time we started The Horse and His Boy
, he was pestering me about when we would get back to the story. Well before we finished the Narnia books, I was getting pretty good at reading out loud and was even able to add some dramatic flourish to it. When I read him A Wrinkle In Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
, I could really let my inner ham come out. After that we went on to enjoy a lot of books together.
The thing I cherish most about this memory is not the newfound confidence that I developed but the fact that I managed to instill deeply into my little brother a love for reading that he still has to this day. The guy can tear through a novel twice as fast as I can and, despite an eight year age difference and the fact that we're only really half-brothers, we remain very close. I will always feel good about that.