Do you remember?

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So often when I read a bio in the Kidslit sphere it includes something along the lines of “I remember my grandma reading to me at 4 months…….etc.” Well, I have a confession to make; I have no recollections at all of being read to in the family as a child. Although I can reel off with ease the literary influences of middle grade and up, I struggle to remember those first albums that inspired me. Though I do remember my love affair with books starting very young. I also remember at age 4/5 having to ask permission to go up to the big class to borrow books from their library and, *sighs with embarrassment*, at age 6 writing lines as punishment – “I will not forget my library books.” (a village school in the 60’s with wonderfully advanced pedagogical techniques – NOT – I still blame my atrocious handwriting on this! and I could tell you some more horrendous punishments).

So I have been wracking the grey matter for hidden memories and have come up with four picture books that touched my early years.


Bread and Jam for Frances by Russel and Lillian Hoban, originally published in 1964. I loved this little badger’s fussy obsession with bread and jam. I was a toast n marmalade gal myself! I liked feisty, stubborn protagonists even at that age, who knows why!


The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss  – Originally published in 1957. I guess we all remember some Seuss? I can recollect a kind of slow panic rising in me, empathizing with the kids, at all the mess Cat in the Hat was making, and I loved the expressions of the fish’s chagrin at all the naughty antics.

Ant and Bee and the Rainbow by Angela Banner – Originally published in the UK in 1962. It was a simple little colour story where Ant and Bee see a rainbow and spend the day with paints and an old tyre. I don’t know if these were ever popular in the US? The principal characters were Ant (the naughtier and more adventurous half of the duo) and Bee (more sensible and better behaved). Sometimes they were joined by the Kind Dog and the zoo man. These books used simple three and four-letter words and I think they were the first I read alone. However, I was surprised to see on Amazon that it has 89 pages. I wish I could see a copy to know how a book that long held my infant attention.

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter. originally published in 1909. This is number 10 in the Peter Rabbit series. Six wee bunnies go missing in this tale and are saved by Thomasina Tittlemouse (a woodmouse). I love the names in these books. We had a huge kitchen garden and I imagined the little bunnies coming to steal our lettuces in the night. As a slightly older child, I remember visiting Potter’s home, Hill Top, in the Lake District.

Can you remember those first picture books either from school or on your mother’s knee?

# 39-42 in There’s a Book Read to Me Reading Book Challenge.

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10 Responses to Do you remember?

  1. Diane says:

    Your intro to this post bought a smile to my face… writing lines on the blackboard… While I don’t remember being read to, I do remember coming home from school with the “Janet and John” Books….. you know… “run Janet run” “run John run” etc… When I was about 9/10 all the kids had to try out for the choir and was asked to sing (solo) God save the queen with piano only accompanying…. I started to sing and next thing the music teacher pointed to the door before I got the first line out…haha. So ended up in a room where we had free time and there were Jigsaw puzzles that on one side you put the correct answers to sums together and fliped it over, it would form the picture…. I cheated and did the picture first then flipped it back, … until I got caught.. (feeling rather embarrassed at true confession). When I was in High School I loved to read and earned the name of “Bookworm” and spent some time reading “True Confession” series of Magazines…. not exactly for Teen consumption if you know what I mean. Got caught in Geography reading one inside another book. Teacher asked to speak to me after class. The kids stood outside waiting and I nearly died thinking he was going to ask for the book. Lucky for me he just said “don’t do it again, if you must read some english project,(what I called it) then do it in english class.” Then let me go.. *whew*… If HE only knew…. I wonder now who would be the most embarrassed… One learns a lot from such mags *wink*.
    I also remember “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr Suess around that time… mmm a more apropriate reading material I might add.

    • Joanna says:

      I loved reading your school memories, Diane 🙂 I do so remember Janet and John. Actually I realize how much early reading books have improved over the years, with much more entertaining narrative, while retaining the simplicity. So you weren’t Miss Goody Tow Shoes at school ?? 😉 Your “True Confessions” gave me an idea of a post on inappropriate books that we all read as teenagers, what do you think?

  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    Funny, how our unique experiences influence our lives. Can’t believe the punishments teachers got away with in our youth. For a sensitive child, it’s devestating. Thanks for sharing your favorites.

    Would have thought you were born with a book in one hand, Joanna. I had a lot of books as a child, and vaguely remember my mother reading me stories — I think it has more to do with my memory than anything. But, I remember a lot of fairytales, “Easto the Sun, Westo the Moon” which were a collection of stories. I read the Tales of Flopsy the Bunnies, and my mother read me a lot of poetry books. Didn’t appreciate Dr. Seuss books — thought they were baby books. Being the eldest of four kids, reading to my two brothers and sisters became my job when I could read — that I remember well. Our library had Saturday reading programs, which I loved to attend — and then of course the summer book mobiles. Books were never out of sight for me.

    • Joanna says:

      Pat, I have exceptionally negative and painful memories from this village school from 4-7, then, thank goodness, I changed schools and things vastly improved. Hah, yes I was known to eat my meals with book still in hand 😉 I love reading all our different childhood experiences. I have to confess fairytales were not part of my repertoire, though I have come to appreciate them in later years. I hadn’t even heard of library programs for children until about ten years ago.

  3. Diane says:

    “Inappropriate books as teenagers” now theres an interesting topic to feed the imagination……I wait with batted breath.
    “Miss Goody Two Shoes” …haha not sure about that. I only know I was very shy and quiet (report cards always said), and was never read to by my parents (to involved with themselves),divorced when I was a teen. Although, I
    do remember, early on one year, very well, my father, drawing lines halfway between the already printed lines in my books, and my having to rewrite my homework out on these pages to help improve my terrible handwriting. My teacher was impressed that a parent took the trouble.
    In NZ kids are encouraged to spend a good deal of time in outdoor activities, with the weather being so mild. It is only in recent years we have become made more aware that there are some children finishing school with very little reading and writing skills. They have managed to slip through undetected.

    • Joanna says:

      Fascinating, I would never have linked lots of outdoor activities with the possibility of neglecting reading.

      I can kind of imagine you as a quiet, thoughtful student.

      With regards handwriting, I have been fascinated to note the hours and hours dedicated in primary schools in france and Italy to teaching good handwriting. Far more than I was used to.

  4. Oddly, I don’t have memories of my mother or father reading to me until I was in hospital at age 7 3/4 to have my tonsils out, and Mum sat by my bed and read Johanna Spyri’s “Heidi” to me. I’m sure Mum must have read to me — her favorite activity has always been reading — but what I remember is her singing to me.

    I *do* remember my grandmother reading to me, and me “reading” to her, and I have clear memories of the picture books that were stacked on the round oak table in the hallway by the front door at my grandparents’ home.

    The other day, while I was clearing out some of the stuff in Mum’s & Dad’s storage room (now my storage room) I found some of the picture books I had cherished as a child. I thought they had been lost long ago. You can imagine my delight! Mum and Dad must have read those to me, surely. I know I read them myself, many times.

    I feel a blog post coming on…

    • Joanna says:

      Oh my, a real “christmas morning” moment to rediscover all those treasured picture books. Sadly I have travelled too much to have kept anything like that. What more might be in store as you venture further into the storage room ? 🙂

  5. Lori D says:

    Bread and Jam for Francis was a favorite with all of my kids! I have very few memories of being read to as well, but I do remember loving reading so much that I would read the toothpaste tube if that was all I could find! I do have lots of memories reading to my own children- I’ll have to remind them lest they forget! 😉

  6. Joanna says:

    Haha, toothpaste tube! you were desperate! Though I do remembering devouring the text on cereal packets at breakfast! Your kids will have your blog to remind them 😉

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