What Was YOUR First Book?

By September 14, 2011Writing about Writing

The books we read as children can have profound influence over us for the rest of our lives. Your first book can be like your first love – rapturous or bittersweet, thrilling or terrifying, but memorable. And like a first love, revisiting your first book after many years can scare you, leading you to think “How could I have been so blind?” or cause you to fall madly in love all over again.

Now, to be absolutely, technically correct, the first book I ever read all the way through all by myself was a Golden Book about an otter. Given the alliteration so common in children’s books, I always assumed it was “Ollie the Otter” or something like that. Although I have tried, no search of Bookfinder.com has ever yielded an “Ollie the Otter.” Just as well, actually, I can’t remember any of that otter’s adventures anyway.

There is no question in my mind that my first love, my great love, is E.B. White’s Stuart Little. Often taking a backseat to his “little sister,” Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little was renowned author White’s first book for children. White once said he wrote the book inspired by a dream in which a boy acted like a mouse, but the charm of the book is that Stuart is a mouse that acts like a boy. A valiant and steadfast lad, Stuart, among his adventures, saves his true love, a sweet sparrow named Margalo, from the clutches of a villainous cat. In her fear, Margalo flies away. At the end of the book Stuart sets off to find her, just as I, as my boyhood came to an end, began a lifelong search for the sparrow that flew off with my heart.

Tell me, when you were young, what book was YOUR first love?

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Mia Amélie says:

    My book was “Good Morning, Muffin Mouse.” I couldn’t even read at the time, but I loved for my mom to read it to me as a wake-up story (rather than the traditional bedtime story) every morning. Because of this book, each day of my early life began with a book. I loved seeing the joyful Muffin Mouse greeting all of her little friends (Franky Frog and everyone) as well as the sky, the flowers, and her very own little house. When I was small, I made a habit of chewing on the books I enjoyed, and, to this day, you can still see the worn edges of this nibbled upon book.

  • David Sims says:

    I personally believe there is NOTHING more important toward the development of literacy in children than for a parent or other adult to spend time reading to a child. I remember pointing to letters as my mother read to me and sounding the words out together with her. I remember thinking of the letters as a code that other people understood but not me — I wanted to understand, too.

    You also bring up another important point: the importance of excellence in illustration in establishing a bond between the story and the reader. I used as my personal example E.B. White’s Stuart Little. What I failed to mention was the perfection of Garth Williams’ illustrations. When I picked up the book again so many years later (the book has never been out of print), I immediately remembered all the illustrations; the memory hit me right between the eyes, and as I stood there in Barnes & Noble I became a little boy again.