I have a confession to make. This isn't easy for me to say "out loud" and it's something I'm very ashamed to admit. Please promise you won't hold it against me and I promise to change my ways in 2010. I don't read. I'm gonna blame it on the distraction of the internet, TV, the phone, video games, the BlackBerry, but I know that's no excuse. It's very embarrassing and sad. Others have continued their love of reading despite technology and no, I'm not really interested in that Kindle thing...
When Books & I Stopped Connecting
I commuted from Long Island to Manhattan for about six years between my college internship at CBS, three years at the magazine and over a year at the website job which helped me finally earn enough cash to move there in 2000. Throughout my hour-long commutes, I would cling to a book. I loved reading, especially about 20-somethings like me who were starting their careers while juggling blind dates, new friendships and barhopping. I could relate.
Today, as I near the end of my 30-somethings, I'm tempted to phone my mother and ask her if she'll pay me $10 if I finish 10 books. This was a deal we had made the summer prior to third grade. It may sound silly now, but that ten bucks got me hooked on reading for nearly the next twenty years.
"Project Get Ally To Read More" started off with a trip to the local library and a brand new marble notebook given to me by my mom. Teacher that she was, she was hip to all of the great child-friendly authors. In the notebook, I was to jot down the name of the book, the author and a little summary about what I had read and if I liked it.
Nothing major, just written proof that the book was indeed finished. I was determined to snag that $10 and did so in record time. Poolside on sunny summer days, I'd sit on one of our plastic lounge chairs gripping a book. I threw myself into reading. I couldn't get enough. I couldn't believe what I was missing all of these months that I preferred TV to books. I especially enjoyed reading stories about little girls and boys my own age. Quickly I would lose myself in the character, a different time and place. In my mind, I had all of these different friends, siblings and pets. It was so dreamy.
Some of the most memorable authors of my youth include (and yes, I'm sure I'll miss a lots of other great writers, so please feel free to comment with your own personal favorites!) ...
Who didn't love Bev? This award-winning children's writer brought us the adventures of little Ramona Quimby and her sister Beezus, Henry Huggins, Ottis, Ribsy and Ralph S. Mouse. Her books were classics.
My mom was a fan of this author and I'm quite sure she introduced me to her books. Targeted at children ages 6-11, Ms. Haywood's style was a bit dated, but so warm and easy to relate to. I loved the main characters, Betsy, Eddie and Penny. I felt as if I was transformed into the '50s just looking at the classic covers. Her books were squeaky clean and catholic-school approved (I often read them in our school's library) with titles like B is for Betsy, Betsy's Play School, Betsy and the Boys, Back to School With Betsy, Betsy's Winterhouse, Little Eddie and many more.
The only author I couldn't remember by name is Peggy Parish. I had to Wiki her by the name of her adorable character, Amelia Bedelia. I can't remember details about that series of books but I truly loved them. The storyline centered around this funny broad Amelia who took everything literally - for example, when told to dress the turkey, she dressed it up in clothing. She was always getting into hilarious situations and provided much comic relief to young readers.
Before they became a Saturday morning cartoon in the mid '80s, The Littles began as a series of books for kids. Freaky looking as hell, The Littles were a family of half human-half mouse creatures who lived in the wall of Henry Bigg's house. The books featured various adventures the family of little "people" get into. I don't really remember much about them now, but at the time, I thought the stories were great.
Saving the very best for last. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you realize that the title of my blog was stolen from a kid's book from my beloved author, Judy Blume. Like most girls growing up in the '80s, Judy was so much more to me than just a writer. She started out simply providing me with an escape from whatever was going down on any given crappy school day. The books were fun. She made me laugh. I could relate to her characters. Later on, however, our relationship changed. Judy became my trusted friend. A confidant. Shelter from the pubescent storm. The cool thing about Judy, was that she wrote books for us little third and fourth graders to enjoy, yet didn't desert us. She stuck with us through the awkward tween and teen years. In fact, Judy even pumped out some adult books which were great too. Some of my favorite titles are (there are way too many to mention): Superfudge, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Blubber, Deenie, It's Not The End Of The World, Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Forever, Tiger Eyes, etc...