So many things you hope to pass on to your children. Some of the lessons you have learned the hard way, or the experiences you have endured so they will not have to, and an appreciation for things that you discovered. The challenge is to explain to them the importance of the little things that may not be relevant in their world today. Figuring out how to share with them what it was like to have to use imagination to see color on a black and white television with a screen smaller than the laptop on their desk, can be a difficult task. Instead of video games, we had board games and action figures where the “stories” came from our imagination. Explaining there was a time when the only way to see a movie was to leave the house and go to the movie theater, or in the alternative, watching a movie at home meant seeing it years after it was released, with commercials, on one of the five television stations. (Just saying that makes me feel like I grew up in the Stone Age.) So many things have changed since I was my daughter’s age. The one thing I can share with her is my love for music and reading, especially those special books that are such a part of my childhood.
At the age of five, my daughter started reading all the books that covered the bookshelves in her room. Like her older sister, she has a natural aptitude for reading and sounding out words. As her skill level increased, she moved into chapter books, and this was when the fun truly began. I introduced her to one of my favorites: The Boxcar Children. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of reading were of these orphaned children and how they were able to survive on their own, while living in an abandoned boxcar, until they discover the kind hearted Mr. Henry was their grandfather. I slipped the first book of the series in with her summer reading stack, not really expecting it to catch her interest amongst the likes of Magic Tree House, Bunnicula, and Clarice Bean. I was happily surprised when she devoured the first book and asked for the next in the series.
I would not say I was too surprised that these tales still hold interest for the beginning readers. Even though today’s bookstore shelves are filled with television based stories books, the enduring story of independent children embarking on an adventure, inspires the imagination for children who feel like adults control their every move. The author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, wanted to use children’s desires to be unsupervised to appeal to the age group the series is directed towards. And even though the series was originally created in 1924, it still holds the same appeal to children over 85 years later.
Someday, my daughter will wander over to the dark side of the book shelves to read, what we refer to the as the “bratty child books”, as I am also sure she will someday move to more modern styles of pop music. At least I console myself with the fact she will have a good foundation from listening to the music of The Beatles, The Who, and Queen and reading Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children.
What are some of the first book series that you remember reading as a child?
Until next time…