Childhood books treasured

Books and I have had a special lifelong relationship. And I still treasure my first “readers.”
As a little girl of four, I loved “The New Winston Primer” especially the first story I learned to read—“The Rabbits.”
There was Peter Rabbit, Mother Rabbit and Baby Rabbit. And they went into the woods. “Hop! Hop! Hop!”
Later, Father Rabbit said, “Come home Mother Rabbit. Come home Baby Rabbit.”
They all went home. “Hop! Hop! Hop!”
And the next two pages of the story are missing. The whole book has a little bit of wear, but every page of “The Rabbits” is badly torn. That means I must have read it over and over again.
Before scotch tape (which was invented in 1930) came into common use, my mother had no way to repair the damage.
Another of my favorites was “The Wee Wee Woman” who “had a wee wee bed.”
Then there were “The Three Bears” and “The Gingerbread Boy.”
After every story there were questions to answer and things to do like—“Play you are the Gingerbread Boy,” “Jump out of the kettle,” and “Run away.”
Another special book I still have is “Girls Big Wonder Book: An unusual collection of fables, modern stories, and old-time tales.”
Unlike my readers, which were printed in the late 1920s, this book was printed in 1932—the year President Roosevelt was first elected. An event I still remember.
“Girls Big Wonder Book” is a VERY large book with a pastel orange cover. The dimensions are eight inches by 11 inches, and the book is a full two inches thick.
It must have been hard for a little girl to hold the book and turn the pages. That may be why the binding is frayed and the pages are all in danger of falling out.
But what a collection of stories!
“How the Pigs can see the Wind,” “The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage” and “Dust under the Rug.”
There were also some more familiar ones, like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
The book even has a few pages with colored pictures and little verses, such as “Betty is smart at blowing a bubble/Bobby is too, but it’s too much trouble.”
Wikipedia says “The authors of Antiquity had no rights concerning their published works.” I was surprised to find that, even in the 1930s, nothing in this delightful book is credited—the editing, the stories or the exquisite old-fashioned drawings.
My third special book is a well-worn “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” although I didn’t much appreciate the book at first. It was a Christmas gift from our country school teacher, Miss Peck.
I was seven years old at the time and the youngest in a class of five girls. We were seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11, respectively.
The other four girls all received books from a series, but Miss Peck said she gave me the odd book because I was the youngest.
Now that I’m older I don’t mind being the youngest, and I value this classic book with its 44 fairy tales.
Copyright 2011 Marie Snider

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