Friday, April 6, 2007
The books we read
This is slightly preoccupying ... but:
A few days ago I came across a couple of digital libraries for international children. I saw a few of the titles I used to read as a child; but not the one that left the deepest mark on my memory: "Hasanak Kojayee?". It was an illustrated book about a boy who was going to far lands in search of sun, or truth; he was missing and thus the title "Hasanak, where are you?" Perhaps the reason why that is the book I long for most is because I never read it properly. My mother would talk to my uncle about political metaphors of the book, but I was only 7 at that time; politics was something that was endangering my family; was changing my ways of life; the book thus was engraved as something mighty but dark in my childish mind. I wish I had a picture of the book, or remembered the story; but it was more like a poem; more enjoyed by my mother than by me. When I was young, I liked fairy tales of Shah-nameh (Children's adaptation of Ferdowsi's book of kings); and a series called "Good Stories for Good Children" by Mehdi Azar Yazdi Here is one of his stories, adapted from Rumi's Mathnavi.
So I asked you the kind visitors of neo-resistance to tell me what you read as a child. You see, I am in search of that which binds us together, that which is common between us irrespective of language, religious decree, politics, nationality. I have compiled your answers. If you click on pictures, it will take you to information pages.
I call this a festive break, a vacation via the memory lane, to that innocent world that shaped our persona:
Dr Victorino de le Vega. "To me Norrin Radd was the epitome of cool. He was the ultimate exile: trapped on earth by the “great cosmic barrier”. Victim of an invisible fence set up by an angry God named Galactus. A metaphor for life I thought."
David: I wasn't any sort of a reading prodigy. A school friend gave me The Call of the Wild as a gift. I recall feeling sorry for the dog who was abused by his master. Later in the story, I was happy for the dog when he gained his freedom and found his own way in the world. I suppose that London intended all sorts of analogies to the human world, but at age 7-8, all I saw was a dog."
Guthman Bey: I grew up in Germany [...] and my favorite books were collections of fairy tales by Wilhelm Hauff and, yes, Andersen. The editions I had are still being published and featured very beautiful illustrations by the aquarellist Ruth Koser Michaels. The two fairy tales I reread the most have the same theme: the heart of ice and its redemption. They are "The Cold Heart" by Hauff and "The Snow Queen" by Andersen.
Nunya: [M]y favorite stories from childhood,[...] were the Little House series and I loved them. I own every one in hardback. That was what I wanted for birthdays and Christmas. Even at ten I knew more about how easy we (as modern Americans in the 70's) had it than most ten year olds.
Sojourner: if there is one book that fed my wild imagination just at the right time,it was, the title, if translated verbatim:"the child who flies through the ancient world(times)". It was about a child traveling in time to the distant past accompanied by the narrator's voice which explains how life began on Earth and takes the child on a journey back to the present. [...]
DivaJood:I loved the book, Misty of Chincoteague - I loved horses, and ponies. Read this over, and over, and over as a child.
goatman:I remember liking "Little Black Sambo" as a creature of about 4 or 5. This book is now banned in US as being racist. Too bad. It involved a little black boy a tiger and a palm tree as essential elements. As I recall, the tiger ran around the tree so fast that he turned into butter! Can this be so?
Little Indian: I have been reading from ever since I can remember, in English and in Bengali. We had the complete set of "The Childrens' Encyclopaedia" by Arthur Mee (in 10 volumes). They were my fall back reading material, if I did not have any other books, I would read these over and over again, or just look at the pictures. Thinking back, that must have opened my mind to know about anything and everything.
Betmo: What did i read as a kid? any Nancy Drew mystery/Hardy Boys mystery i could find. Charlie and the Chocolate factory- all of The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls wilder. My mother called me a houseplant because i never wanted to be outside- i was always inside with my nose in a book. i love to read and i love it when people are turned on to reading and books. it opens up whole new worlds- and you get to use your imagination. a rare thing in today's technological age.
Mystic Rose: i loved reading MahaBharata which is the story of long ago India, but more mythical than real.. but love it anyway for all the drama. And I still like Enid Blyton's books...and of course you know I like Sufi poetry.
Coffee Messiah:Although I read Mark Twain, EA Poe, Jack London, Defoe and most of the children's classics, one of my favorites was a book written by Thornton W Burgess, who's illustrator Cady was one of the best. Mostly animals as people, The Log Of The Storyteller was about: Once a week a man would ask a child in the neighborhood to bring a log, and that child would ask the storyteller to make a story up about "whatever" and each week, a different child would bring the log, hence a new story.
... and here are some new suggestions from your comments. I read all of these when I was young:
Posted by Naj