I love libraries. I especially love the Hoquiam Public Library. Walking through the doors I still get that little tingle of excitement that thrilled me as a child. I was a bit nervous years ago when the library was remodeled and expanded, but one visit quelled my fears- all was well. But late at night, in my dreams, I return to the old original Carnegie library. Back in those days the entrance was on K Street and you walked up the steep stone steps to the gigantic front doors. Once inside you either tuned left and went down stairs to the children’s library, or tiptoed very quietly upstairs to the adult library. The appeal of sneaking upstairs was to stand in utter awe of the huge Grandfather clock, and hopefully be there to hear its deep, melodious chimes. Then a peek into the big armchairs in front of the fireplace to see who was reading the newspaper before scurrying back to the children’s library.
The old books that I loved back then are still favorites. Every so often I indulge in reading them again- surprisingly, they’re even better reading now! Just for the fun of it I made a list of my favorite children’s books. A flash of self awareness came to me like a lightning bolt- the characters in those books were my heroes then and will be my heroes always.
Here are my childhood favorites;
1. Any book by Thornton W. Burgess! Turns out that he wrote 179 titles, so I have many unread titles to track down. Like any good children’s author Mr. Burgess loved animals; Blacky the Crow, Digger the Badger, Jerry Muskrat at Home, and my number one top favorite- Paddy the Beaver Builds a Dam
2. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner These kids were brave, self reliant, and inventive. Best part? Finding the discarded pretty teacup! Could be that this set the stage for my somewhat obsessive love of china teacups.
3. The Wizard of Oz . Yes, there were Oz books many years before Judy Garland made the movie. Lots of them, like the Patchwork Girl of Oz.
4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A rotten little girl who changed her wicked ways by restoring a neglected old garden. Every character in the book grows into something beautiful, just as the garden is saved from sadness.
5. A Wrinkle In Time by Madleine L’Engle. Love comes in all shapes and forms; Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, & Mrs.Which. The best introduction to Science Fiction, even better than the original Star Trek series.
6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. The first in a series, all filled with thrilling characters and great concepts. I actually re-read the entire series every summer. Preferably lying in a hammock
7. Nancy Drew, Girl Detective by Carolyn Keene. Nancy was a great role model- an independent girl who broke rules right and left- but always remained respectful to her elders.
8. Harry Potter! By J.K. Rowling. I was way, way past childhood when these books came out- no matter, I adore them! Reading a Harry Potter book for the umpteenth time is like therapy for me, or comfort food, or a great vacation.
I suppose a psychologist would have a field day with my list. Even I can discern a pattern to my favorites, but I’m pleased with that pattern. It seems to be a far better basis for a balanced life than graphic and violent video games or non-stop television. Children will continue to love books as long as adults continue to encourage them to read. Learning to read builds far more self esteem than learning how to switch on a television set. Story Time was always my favorite part of the school day, and reading books with my flashlight under the bed covers after bedtime was my secret vice. I’m pretty sure that my mother knew exactly what I was up to!
Barbara Bennett Parsons, old fashioned to the core. Manager of the Grays Harbor (Hoquiam) Farmers Market and Deidra’s Deli
Market winter schedule, Wednesday thru Sunday 538-9747
Deidra’s Deli is open 7 days a week, weekdays until 7pm 538-5880
Grays Harbor Public Market