A lot of my reader friends profess to having started reading real books in grade school. Sometimes I wonder if maybe that might explain some of my tastes in books. When I was in grade school, I didn’t read much. In fact, I can probably count the number of books I read during those early years on my fingers. Here is a list of what I can recall reading:
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
I’m pretty sure everyone read this one. I read it multiple times. The adventures of Stuart fired my imagination in a way that Howard and Burroughs would much later. Probably my first foray into “urban fantasy.” Though that sub-genre has taken on a whole new meaning these days.
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Another one that was standard fare for kids. I read this one a few times as well. It’s a wonderful story, and very eye-opening for a child. The talking animals were quite interesting, and I always wondered if my pets could understand me, and speak to each other.
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I had a teacher who would read these books to us in 2nd grade. I enjoyed the stories so much that I started reading them on my own. I read three or four of them, a couple of them more than once (On the Banks of Plum Creek was my favorite, I think).
Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown
More of a kids’ picture book, I loved this story. A kid has a big board fall on him while he’s sleeping, and wakes up flat. He had many adventures with his brother, including being a kite, slipping under a door, and being mailed to his grandparents’ house. In the end, he just wants to be normal again, so his brother helps him by inflating him with a tire pump. It was kind of a feel-good story.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume
I loved this book. In fact, I think I even read the sequel, Superfudge, as well as Freckle Juice, also by Judy Blume. One thing I remember talking away from this book was being glad I was an only child.
The City Under the Back Steps, by Evelyn Sibley Lampman
Two kids are shrunk down to ant-size when they are bitten by ants, and suddenly find themselves as part of the society of an ant-colony. This was a very cool book, that gave kids an insight into an ant-colony in the most unique way imaginable.
In 1st and 2nd grade, I read comic books. I can also recall being in the 4th grade, and my stepdad made me read a book entitled Kathy about a quadriplegic girl, and her struggles. It was non-fiction, very depressing, and not “fun” in the slightest. Oh, and then there was the time, probably about 3rd grade, when he told me to go to my room and “read my Bible.” So, I did. Got to somewhere in Psalms before my mom began to wonder where I was. I honestly don’t have many fond memories of that asshole.
Looking back, I can’t fathom what it would have been like to tackle The Hobbit, or anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs at that age. And yet, I have friends who did so (and it’s probably no minor coincidence that quite a few of them are writers now). But not me. I didn’t start reading real genre fiction until my late teens. You would think that I would have at least looked into some of the books included in the “Inspirational Source Material” list in the Basic D&D book I got when I was 12.
My daughters have dabbled in genre fiction already. And when Connor is old enough to read, I will introduce him as well. Not sure if it will make a difference, but it can’t hurt.