I don’t remember the first book I ever read. I know I had a set of Disney books. And I know I loved, loved, loved my Berenstain Bears books – and still harbor some resentment over them having been given to my cousin, who still loves reading so perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much.
I do remember the first chapter books I read, or rather was read – Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie. My mom read them to me while I followed along with the intense desire to read them for myself. I ended up with pneumonia five times during third grade and the upside of being so sick so long was that every time I had to miss more school, my parents bought me another new book from the series. I had to fight hard to get Farmer Boy. I don’t remember exactly why but I do remember being absolutely convinced that Almanzo’s childhood was just as important as Laura’s if they were going to end up together, which I knew they were.
(I’m realizing now that maybe Almanzo’s story was the first time I ever saw the true value in spin-offs and that sort of thing, despite not knowing just what they were.)
I still have those very same books and I still re-read them. My set doesn’t match, not even close, and there are spots and stains of mysterious origins on them but none of that matters. Until they crumble into dust or otherwise escape my ownership, against my will, they will be the only set of Little House on the Prairie I own. For sentimental reasons above all else.
I learned that I loved to read when my mom read me books she’d loved as a child. I learned that there are worlds of adventure in the pages of books. I learned that, with a little work, I could explore and exist in those worlds with help, with companionship, or on my own.
And I haven’t looked back since.