As a result of a spring-fever cleaning urge, I recently sorted and cataloged my books using the Libib app and website. Near the end of my project, I had a nice time going through a large box of books that I kept from my childhood.
Just from looking at the books, it was fun and enlightening to see who I was when I was young, and to think about the ways I have and have not changed.
These children’s novels and basic readers hail from the school days of my parents and grandparents.
I must have come with an innate liking for history and “vintage” things, because I loved reading all of these books during my own elementary school years.
Note the five rather battered, yet lovely green hardback Bobbsey Twins novels—plus a sixth, which is missing its cover. These novels all have copyright dates from the 1920s and 1930s. In these stories, the main characters are two sets of fraternal twins (Bert, Nan, Freddie, and Flossie), all siblings, whose dialogue includes words such as “Hark!” and whose parents are always referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey.
I also enjoyed reading the Dick and Jane and Alice and Jerry basic readers, which were full of stories about the respective title characters’ adventures growing up in the New England countryside. I remember being fascinated by the descriptions and illustrations in one chapter of Neighbors on the Hill as Dick and Jane went maple sugaring in the autumn.
The Family Treasury of Children’s Stories in three volumes were also a favorite, as they contained all kinds of now-politically-incorrect stories ranging from fairy tales and nursery rhymes to accounts of famous men and women in history, extracts from English literature, and retellings of classical mythology.
I credit many of these books with instilling in me a very 1950s sense of patriotism and optimism that persists to this day.