Do you remember the first book you ever read? Not a book that someone else read to you—I heard hundreds of books read to me by my mom, grandparents, and my older sister, Bonnie, before I learned to read one myself. But what about the first book you actually read on your own? I think mine was this one:
I was introduced to Dick, Jane, and Sally in first grade, and their story intrigued me. I admired pretty, well-dressed Jane the same way I looked up to my older sister. Adorable little Sally reminded me of my baby sister, Peggy. Like them, our family also had a dog—theirs was named Spot, ours was Lady. I didn’t have any brothers, so I always had a bit of a crush on Dick—he was my first fictional, romantic hero. (Although, at the time, I was convinced he and his sisters were real people. I think all writers hope their characters will spring to life in readers’ minds.)
The book’s setting fascinated me. In the illustrations, the story’s background always seemed so much neater and more perfect than the setting of my life. I was a bit envious of it, to tell you the truth. (And I still love a novel that takes me to an exotic location or time period, don’t you?)
In true 1950’s style, the children’s mother always wore a dress, their father usually wore a suit. The “plot” of the first few books were told mostly through the illustrations. Without them, the dialogue and narrative were pretty stilted, consisting mostly of simple words like “oh” and “look” and “see” repeated endlessly. (Today, I prefer reading novels with a rich, lush vocabulary and vivid descriptions.) Even so, I was hooked on that book!
I came across Dick, Jane and Sally and the memories they triggered while researching my newest novel, “The Wish Book Christmas.” I was looking up everything about life in the 1950’s—fashions, cars, toys, Christmas trees—and somehow I ran into my old friends. Instantly, I was a kid again, sitting at a splintery wooden desk, quietly flipping ahead to the next chapter in the lives of Dick, Jane, and Sally. (I had to flip ahead because the other kids in the class were reading much too slowly, and I needed to see how the story ended. That’s another great quality in a novel, isn’t it?)
It’s MUCH too soon to start blogging about Christmas, (even though I’m told “The Wish Book Christmas” can now be pre-ordered and will be out in September) but I wanted to show you the novella’s very 1950’s cover. I’m thrilled that it has such a nostalgic feel to it. (And the little boy admiring the tree could be Dick, right?)
We’ll talk more about that book and our Christmas memories as we get closer to the actual holiday season. But for now, I would love to know if you remember the first book you ever read—and how it affected you. What was it about the story that was most memorable to you—the plot? The characters? The setting? Or maybe it was the way it showed you something about yourself or your life? I would love to hear from you!