23 February 2011

When We Were Very Young Challenge

Take five minutes. (Please.)

Now think of reading and books,
take a deep breath,
try to clear your mind and think back,
way back,
think of  a memory,
a first memory 
of books and reading. 

What do you remember? 

In the comments below, 
tell us your story!


  1. The Big Sister, The Little Sister and The Mom came up with this challenge while we were thinking about reading aloud this morning.

    A collective first memory we share is sitting on the couch together and The Mom reading aloud for hours and hours and hours... and hours.

    Today we realized that because of books-on-tape The Mom doesn't read aloud as much. We miss that. Last night as The Mom finished reading The House in the Big Woods to The Little Sister who is sick and wanted nothing, but The Mom to read... reading aloud IS magic (and that reading a book several times aloud adds to the magic.)

    The Mom is elated that we share that as one of our first memories of reading. And she will be read aloud to The Sisters MUCH MORE OFTEN!

  2. i have a hard time reading aloud for long, bc my throat hurts. it makes me sad!

    that said, my very first memory of reading isn't probably a first reading, but it is the first time i really remember being SO moved by a book. i was reading robin hood, probably 4th grade? - and was just on the couch, SOBBING, bc it was so sad when he DIED. my mom didn't make me come to dinner, she said books were too important and i had to finish it! oh my.

    it was so wrenching, to be so absorbed into this story (thank you mom (a librarian) for understanding the power of words and reading), and then he died and i felt betrayed by the story. it was the first time that i had read a book where the ending surprised me.

    now, of course, i read more of those books and STILL don't like the endings! :)

  3. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Sometime before Kindergarten, I was carefully turning pages and there it was
    my first papercut.

    I wasn't sad, I didn't cry.

    I was a reader and I had my first papercut and I was so proud.

  4. Anonymous9:56 AM

    I remember in Kindergarten drawing a picture of an abominable snowman (that I has just seen on a Christmas special) and I couldn't even pronounce the word! I came close enough because my teacher, Miss Racky wrote the words "abominable snowman" beneath my picture and then made two flash cards with the words "abominable" and "snowman" on them. I learned to read my first words this way, drawing pictures and then having her write what they were beneath them. Then, I had this accompanying stack of flash cards with the same words that I eventually learned to read separate from the pictures. It went something like this: "cat" "house" "Mommy" "flower" "abominable" "sunshine" --- hilarious. I remember Miss Racky though it was so funny that I learned the word abominable. I still don't really know what that word means! I think I'll look it up.

  5. I searched my early memory for books and times of being read to and could find neither. I was a Depression child. In my childhood, during the early 1930's we lived in an extended family situation with my maternal grandparents (M'mere and P'pere), 3 aunts and 1 uncle. Everyone except M'mere and 1 aunt worked. M'mere was my mentor and best friend. My mother was a teacher so she wasn't home during the day. My father had a job on a cement boat on the Great Lakes on which his father was chief engineer, so he only came home when the ship was in Detroit. I don't remember books, but I remember people, and I remember them caring about my sister and me. We sort of belonged to everyone in the family for discipline and teasing and yes, education. So I remember stories. To this day I can recite many, many Nursery Rhymes that I learned at someone's knee, or by osmosis. And I knew Cinderella and Snow White and giants and dragons and 3 Billy Goats Gruff, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and The Tortoise and the Hare and much, much more that form part of who I am.

    When I went to school, I learned to read: "See Dick run! Run, Dick run. Dick and Jane run. See Spot. Spot has a ball...." Or maybe I learned to read when my sister went to school because she started before I did. And then I read myself. And read and read and never stopped.

    Later, when my father was off the boat and working in Detroit, and an aunt and uncle married and moved apart and the family had downsized, I still remember my father's voice, "Listen my children and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. ..." or "I think that I shall never see/
    A poem lovely as a tree. ..." and other poems he had memorized when he was in school. And I was reading and listening and absorbing - and becoming. I look back on this as a rich and rewarding time, Then, it was just living day by day. I never knew we were as poor, materially, as we were because I was surrounded by love.

    So now I can say that I think one of the loveliest and lovingest things we
    have to share with one another is our time and attention - like reading a book aloud with someone and/or telling stories.

    Thank you BFWP!

  6. abominable
    mid-14c., from O.Fr. abominable (12c.) and directly from L.L. abominabilis "deserving abhorrence," from stem of L. abominari "deplore as an evil omen" (see abomination). Sometimes misdivided in earlier centuries as a bominable. Also often abhominable 14c.-17c. Related: Abominably. (from Online Etymological Dictionary)

    My first memory of reading was that I could not. I watched my older brother reading, and at the age of 4 asked him to bring a book home for ME. I assumed I would be able to read it just like he did. I sat down on the floor cross-legged (just like him) and opened the book (just like him) but the words didn't "work". I'd thought that they would come to me. I cried in my first experience of disillusionment. I'm so grateful that now, the words COME, the books WORK.

  7. Searching my memories about reading revealed that I can't remember life without books. My mother was a teacher and sill is so proud that I was reading before kindergarten. Oddly, my kindergarten teacher wouldn't allow me to read in class because it might frustrate those who could not yet read. Sisters, can you imagine a teacher asking a child not to read?

    Books have always provided me with a place. A place to be. A place to learn. A place to grow. Sometimes a place to hide. And other times a place to just see the world through another's eyes.

  8. Although I do not remember much about being a little gal who read very, very early for her age, I've heard little tales about it, and imagine what it was like to sit next to my pretty mommy, and listen to her read to me with her big beautiful eyes and I imagine sweet inflections and miscellany character intonations. I have listened to her read to my niece & nephews, & sometimes close my eyes & wonder what it was like to be cozied-up on her lap, listening & learning; sounding out words, so many years ago.

  9. Norma GC9:29 AM

    I remember that the first book (with no images) my mom read to us aloud was "Platero y yo" of the Spaniard Juan Ramón Jiménez, it was a lyric prose about Platero, a small, soft, heary donkey, it was a tender story, but what I loved the most was to be sitting together with my sisters listenig to my mom's voice. I think the idea of reading aloud started because I had chicken pox and my dad didn't want me to be so contagious, so I was confined to my room, in order for me not to feel so lonely she started reading from outside the door, we liked it so much that we continued after I restablished, I remember "Marcelino Bread And Wine" by José María Sánchez Silva, an extremely touching story about an orphan rised by monks and a miracle that was produced. She also read to us "The Little Prince" of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, these stories remained very dear to me, because I heard them from my mom's lips and she would do different entonations and voices for characters, but also because they game me the curiosity to know new stories when I was able later on to read by mylsef.