Welcome to our new series, The Well-Readheads, in which copper-locked contributors Rebecca Joines Schinsky and Liberty Hardy discuss their love of literature and all things book-related.
Today’s first post: Childhood Reading!
LH: I’ll start: What’s the first book you remember reading as a child?
RJS: Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. My parents were super-impressed when I announced that I could read it to them…until they realized I was holding it upside-down and had just memorized it from all the reading aloud we did together. It’s my dream that my nieces and nephews will do this with Skippyjon Jones. You?
LH: It was one of those Book-of-the-Month subscription books, a book of little stories. The title escapes me, but I can almost see its puce-colored cover. One story was about a ghost; another was about soup. I must have read that book thousands of times…I wonder if this is where my hatred of soup stems from.
RJS: What kind of person hates soup?
LH: I don’t like my food to move that much.
RJS: If you tell me you don’t like pudding, we’re through.
LH: Vegetarians steer clear of gelatin…
RJS: I suppose that as long as the banana candle is fair game, we can continue. Anyway, how did you come into your identity as a reader? Does it run in the family?
LH: Most def – my mom was a librarian. Books everywhere, all the time. Her teaching me to read at a very young age was the best present anyone has ever given me. How about you? What led you down this path?
RJS: Both of my parents love books but haven’t always been huge readers–I think they read to me more than they read on their own. My dad read me The Hobbit as a bedtime story (for maaaaaaany nights) when I was 8 or so, and I remember it being the first time I fell in love with a book. After that, it was all hiding under the covers with a flashlight after bedtime and tucking books into my hymnal at church on Sundays.
LH: What was your first series? Nancy Drew? Hardy Boys? Bobbsey Twins?
RJS: It was Nancy Drew. Oh, how I wanted to be Nancy Drew! (Almost as much as I wanted to someday have breasts the size of tennis balls after reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.) Then it was Baby-sitter’s Club. And then I sort of fell off the series-reading wagon until my teenage discovery of Christopher Pike. You? (And shouldn’t we BE the Bobbsey Twins for something?)
LH: I think the Choose Your Own Adventure books were the first group of books I remember having to methodically read in order. I did read all of the Nancy Drew books, and the Hardy Boys, too, but I read the Hardy Boys begrudgingly, because people would always say, “Hardy? Where are your brothers Frank and Joe?”
RJS: *Groan* I got Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm references.
LH: I just answered that they died in a fire, and people backed away, smiling nervously. Do you think Nancy Drew was the character you most wanted to be when you were little?
RJS: I think so, though I don’t remember, like, playing make-believe as Nancy Drew. But she was clever, and she had fun adventures, and that boyfriend of hers didn’t seem to mind that she was smart–he actually seemed to like it. I think I knew early on that I was going to have to find a guy like that.
LH: I wanted to be Turtle from The Westing Game. I wanted to live in a building like she did – wasn’t bothered by the idea of bombs and death threats in the least. She was a bit like Nancy Drew, in that she was trying to solve a mystery. Any childhood favorites that you still read?
RJS: I’ve re-read The Giver almost every year for as long as I can remember. I’m shocked every time by how much there is in it, how big the ideas are, and how much I *didn’t* understand about when I first read it in 6th grade. It was mindblowing then, and it just gets better. It’s also probably one of the first books that made me think about politics. In general, I’m not a big re-reader. But I want to be! Et tu?
LH: I read my first Agatha Christie when I was 8 – And Then There Were None. Does that count? I read it all the time – it’s my comfort food. My twisted, twisted comfort food. Definitely Something Queer at the Library, about two girls investigating the defacing of library books. (I may be hung up on girl sleuths.) And Mole & Troll Trim the Tree by Wallace Tripp. Still the best Christmas book.
Next time on The Well-Readheads: book borrowing! But first, we want to hear from you: what are your earliest and best childhood reading memories?