My parents' didn't have a lot of money when I was younger, so growing up, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to go to the library. I remember how proud I was to get my very own library card when I learned how to write my name. It was orange and that card opened a completely new world for me. The same stories I read as a young child, I also enjoyed reading to my brother.
I drank books up like water and the librarians always asked me when I came up laden with armfuls of stories: Are you really going to read all those? They soon learned to stop asking me such a ridiculous question. I always read every book I checked out and usually didn't need to renew them! I became a familiar face at my library. I still remember the smell of the plastic library book bags lying in the sun in my mom's car while we grocery shopped. It is a happy smell.
We didn't own very many books, but we did have some as kids. In fact, one of my favorites is sitting on my shelf right now. Its spine is torn and beaten, but the pages are intact and miraculously it managed to avoid being scribbling on. The book is called: (Dean's) A Book of Fairy Tales. My brother and I liked the book because of the colorful illustrations. One of my favorite fairy tales in the collection is Thumbelina. I wanted a tiny person of my own to be my friend. My brother's favorite was Jack and the Beanstalk.
Besides fairy tales, I was a huge Beverly Cleary fan. I don't remember if my mother, the librarian, or my teacher introduced me to this lovable character, but I was a great fan of Ralph S. Mouse. The Mouse and the Motorcycle is still one of my favorites and rests proudly on my bookshelf today as well. In fact, I have read it to many kids I babysat for over the years and my brother too. I dreamed of going on a summer vacation and discovering Ralph waiting for me in my room with his infamous motorcycle. What adventures we would have had!
My other favorite I have sitting on my bookshelf is Miss Osborne-the-Mop by Wilson Gage. I'm ashamed to say I never returned it to my teacher's personal book collection in the classroom. Somehow, it ended up in my own personal collection. Maybe, one of these days, I will remember to take it back to Milwaukee with me and it will find its home again. I can't count the times I read this story. It fascinated me that I could possibly wake up one morning like the girl, Jody, and discover I possessed magical powers and Miss Osborne-the-Mop, one of her magical creations, made me giggle.
So what childhood stories stoked your imagination, fostered your love of reading, and made you the writer you are today? Perhaps, they'll get you writing again.
As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!