Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Formative Geek Books

Reading Rainbow Blog is focusing on Geeks this week. Today's interview with GeekDad talked about the books he recommends for young Geeks. Yesterday's really awesome post Embrace Your Inner Geek By Learning From The Best: Your Kids emphasized the  single-minded passion for a subject that kids develop.
So, I was inspired to reminisce about the books I loved as a young Geekling. This is definitely not a comprehensive list!

My first two book obsessions:
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown - In the great, green room, there was a telephone. . . My favorite part was hunting for the little mouse in every full-color picture. According to my Baby Book, I always punctuated the end of the book with "Mousie in the winnow!"
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle -  My mom still has crayon drawings of "capatillers" on a leaf that I drew between the ages of three and four. (If I remember to hunt them down, I may post them.)
The first Author I remember falling in love with was Beverly Cleary - All three Ralph Mouse books, and my childhood heroine Ramona Quimby!
In upper elementary school, I read all the World Book Encyclopedia Childcraft books we had (both the ones that were new for my sisters and me, and the ones we inherited from when my dad was small.) In addition to reading a good majority of the Encyclopedia itself.
The American Girl books had me obsessed with History! Especially Molly and WWII, and Addy & The American Civil War - she was brand new when I was in third grade! (I never had any of the dolls, I was always trying to save up for Molly and/or Space Camp - but I didn't get either!). 

Unlike most kids I wasn't just attached to one subject, and even while learning as much about the War Between the States and the Second World War, I was enamored with Science, especially Space. H.A. Rey's Find the Constellations & C.E. Thompson's Glow-In-The-Dark Constellations were always under my pillow with a dying EVEREADY flashlight. 
I devoured the Magic School Bus books too. (Long before the TV show, back when Arnold's hair was blonde!)
I was quite fond of The Baby Sitter's Club. I wish I still had them, I had almost all of the books in the series, and collected them from third-sixth grades. I also have a VHS of episode 4 of the TV series. (Which you can currently watch on Netflix if you so desire.)
The Summer between third and fourth grade I fell in love with a fictional boy. Peter Hatcher. In Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Can you believe that book is 40 years old! I found a boxed set of all the Fudge books, apparently some fans are upset because the books have been updated a bit - Peter apparently asks for an mp3 player instead of a record player for Christmas.  Her YA novels are somewhat infamous for being controversial, but Peter and Fudge have not escaped controversy - the parts about Where babies come from and Santa Claus not being real have sparked some angry reviews! Obviously parents aren't re-reading/watching things before their precious helicopterlings read/watch them - How about just popping in The Goonies for your seven-year-old! Speaking of her YA novels, Deenie scarred me a bit (and I understood why it wasn't in the kid's section of the library!) 
My fifth grade teacher was a History Buff, we read and he read to us many really awesome Historical Fiction (or maybe some non-fiction - I wish I could remember the name of some of them!) books.  He really encouraged my interest in Social Studies! (I have only recently realized how much I learned in Fifth Grade that keeps coming back to me in my college classes.)
Somewhere, in fifth or sixth grade, I discovered a box of Romance Novels that my mom got from someone. I read most of them before I got "caught." My mom was concerned that I was reading some that were "too racy." I replied, "But they don't have any black people in them." Sadly, I cannot remember the title of the first one I read! (I have submitted a HABO request to SBTB with the hopes that they will post it and I can one day update this entry with the title! P.S. They are currently having a contest for an iPod mini and a set of enhanced eBooks by Courtney Milan)
Anyway, I picked up a book that I expected was another "racy" (I had learned the real meaning of the word) novel, The Color of Her Panties by Piers Anthony. The first Adult Fantasy novel I read. I was somewhat confused by the plot and (rightly) figured out that this was part of a series. For some reason, I asked my Dad about it. (I wonder if he was the first parent I encountered, or if I purposely asked him for fear my mom would confiscate it as "too racy.") He handed me a book he had actually previously suggested to me, but that I turned down because the cover was an ugly "baby poop-brown" and there was a man and a monster on the cover. (Yeah, like you've never judged a book by its cover.) The Spell for Chameleon. I was hooked (although, I skipped The Source of Magic, because we didn't have a copy, I eventually read it and thought it was really boring!)

Piers Anthony led to Anne McCaffrey, who led to Tolkien's Hobbit and LOTR Trilogy (which I didn't really like, but read anyway), then C.S.Lewis's Narnia (We had a boxed set, so I read them in story chronological order, not published order, and I'm not certain I ever finished the last two books). I tried Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and Brian Jacques' Redwall, but found them equally boring. T
I think I gave up on SciFi/Fantasy for awhile and exclusively read Newberry Medal & Honor Books and Silhouette or Harlequin romances. 
Until, (at a staff & families pool party - my parents both worked at an elementary school), I overheard my sister's teacher recommending these new books to the son of one of her coworkers.  Harry Potter.
And, I need to go to bed, like, two and a half hours ago.

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