When my son was in first grade, he came running home from school one day and shouted, “Mom, I can read!” Then he sat on our front stoop and, with younger neighbourhood kids gathered around, he read aloud from the adventures of Moutarde the clown.
His pace was stilted, and his index finger pointed to each word on the page as he mouthed it before sliding it to the next word. As I watched his pride and unbridled joy at his new accomplishment, memories of my own early days of reading flooded my mind.
Our first grade reader didn’t have an exotic character like Moutarde (French for mustard) the clown. Instead we learned to read with siblings David and Anne. Beautiful illustrations filled most of each page because they were designed to entice us to read the few, simple words at the bottom. I remember an image of David climbing the monkey bars at the park. On the opposite page, his sister, Anne, urged him on from the sidelines, “Go, David. Go up, up, up.” Well, we all have to start somewhere.
As my reading skills improved, I graduated to the Bobbsey Twins series. The older ones, Nan and Bert, were wise 12-year-olds while the younger set, Flossie and Freddie, were six. Their antics kept me entertained for hours.
Next came the indomitable Nancy Drew, teenage sleuth! She was the one who sparked my life-long love of mystery novels. Books from the series always had the most intriguing titles like “The Secret of the Old Clock”, “The Hidden Staircase” and “The Clue of the Dancing Puppet”. Who could resist?
I often got a Nancy Drew book for Christmas or my birthday and I couldn’t wait to spirit it away to my room. But I’d hesitate to start reading it because each page I turned would bring me closer to the end. I always felt a pang of sadness when I finished a much-loved book even if there was a new one waiting. Reading a good book is like catching up with an old friend; you can comfortably pick up wherever you left off. Starting a new book, though, is a little bit like the start of a new relationship. You need time to get to know and appreciate it, but it’s time well spent.
There are many wonderful books and authors that I’ve read throughout adulthood. I would list a few that I appreciated but it’s Sunday afternoon and I have a date with a good novel!
P.S.: Recommendations for my reading list are welcome!