Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013.06.09 Books We Hear

You can tell a lot about yourself by noticing what your favorite book was as a young child. Often there’s one favorite, one that stands out, one that touched your imagination in provocative ways. It would be the one you requested and loved to skim when no one was available to read it to you. It would be the one your mother or father got sick of. It would be the one whose plot somehow mysteriously told you who you are and where you wanted to go, if life afforded the opportunities and you had enough health and chutzpah to follow them.

I remember the Dick and Jane readers, full of boring repetitions: Run. Run Run. See Dick run—going nowhere fast! Baby Sally and Puff the kitten had promise, but the rest of those plodders killed any possibility of plot or excitement. If that was the spice of reading it was not for me.  Bad writing did, however, motivate me to learn to read so I could move on from these primers.  They weren’t spiritual. They didn’t enliven me.

Thanks God for Dr. Seuss who came along and, by writing a good read, made learning to read enticing.  

My favorite pre-reading book engaged me in a life, an image, and a story fraught with meaning I would come to love and remember. It was called The Little Book About God, published just four years before I was born. It’s small and not full of colorful illustrations to attract a young child. My mother must have picked it out for me at one of our annual book-buying trips to Macys in NYC.  The book spree was almost more exciting to me as the clothes-buying jaunt, also at Macys.

Why my mother thought I’d love this book is uncertain. Perhaps it had something to do with her own yearnings and the fact that she thought I was a gift from God born after several miscarriages and lots of anguish. And maybe I told her I’d met God under the table. I don’t know but God was an early mental preoccupation for me—a Mystery I still ponder and have come to love beyond love.

My younger sister’s favorite book was The Little House. She grew up to live in a little house and be a champion of justice for little people, who, like the book’s little house, got overpowered by big city growth and other oppressions.


My children's books of choice told me a lot about them, their souls: wild things, things that moved fast like planes, trains and automobiles, little houses and family love, searching and finding the right mother.

My husband’s favorite, one of them at least, was The Little Engine That Could.  No wonder. He still is one. 

What was yours?