When I was young, my grandmother would take me on the bus to our local discount department store, Woolco. She'd leave me browsing the toy section as she shopped, and I'd inevitably end up looking at books. When she was ready to go, she’d let me pick a book to take home. Woolco had the BEST collection of Nancy Drew mysteries, and I'd linger over the shelf, running my finger along the row of hardcover yellow spines. So many to read…how could I possibly choose?
Many of my childhood memories are entwined with books. I loved when Scholastic book catalogues were handed out at school, and I wanted all of the books in the flyer. I'd give my teacher an envelope full of exact change with my order form, and the best part was when the books came in. There was so much anticipation in that shiny new book.
I also whiled away many hours in my elementary school library, where I’d borrow copies of E.B. White's Trumpeter of the Swan, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn or the Little House on the Prairie series. It was a small library, so I’d end up borrowing my favourite titles all over again.
My best friend—who was my BFF before BFF even became a term—introduced me to Enid Blyton. Catherine's parents had immigrated to Canada from England, and the books they brought with them opened a whole new world. I was enamoured with the adventures of the Famous Five. Why couldn't I spend my time exploring abandoned castles, mysterious moors and lighthouses? Later, copies of Flowers in the Attic, Mommie Dearest and Forever would be exchanged between junior high school friends.
After school, I’d spend time at my parents' Chinese restaurant. If there weren't dishes to dry or soya sauce bottles to fill, I’d sit at a corner table and read books from the city library. My brother would drive me there every couple of weeks, and on a good day, I'd find a stack of a half-dozen or so books to take home. This is where I discovered Agatha Christie, Phyllis Whitney, and many others. In those days, I wanted to be a librarian. Imagine working among books all day!
When my husband and I started our family, we filled our children's lives with books. It's fun for me to dig up titles I think they’ll like. Sometimes they'll abandon a book I was certain they'd love. Other times, if they missed the call for dinner or pleaded to stay up late to “read one more chapter," it meant they were happily absorbed in an author's world.
I'm excited to share our family's favourites in this blog. I hope you find some that become favourites in your home too.
Two kids, two cats, and a house full of books. We share our favourite picks for young readers.