Kindred Spirits: The Bonds of Books

from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I have been a reader since my early childhood. I was compulsive and I read any book that was available. Fortunately, there was a generous supply of books that had belonged to my mother and a very modest public library. There was no school library in my elementary school.  Oral reading was a round robin  activity. Many of the children were hesitant readers or very shy. I don't recall the teacher reading aloud to us until Grade 5. The book was Pierre Berton's The Secret World of Og.



a Canadian fantasy

I was an independent reader from an early age. I especially enjoyed historical fiction. I devoured the historical fiction of Jean Plaidy (Eleanor Hibbert) who also wrote as Norah Lofts and as Philippa Carr. The Queens of England and The Plantagenet series were my favourites. I loved Mazo de la Roche (even her name) who wrote the Jalna series, a saga (another Canadian work)  of the Whiteoaks family. Both of these authors were prolific and their works were widely available in the 1950's and 1960's.


I started writing when I was about 8 years old. I created little newspapers on my mother's old Underwood typewriter and composed lyrics to my Toronto Royal Conservatory piano music. My Grade 5 teacher made an anthology of my poetry. Jo March was my favourite sister in Little Women
and I admired Anne Shirley's way with words in Anne of Green Gables. Descriptive language and uncommon words were my friends.



I recently had a conversation with a former colleague over coffee in a second-hand bookshop. It turned out that we had both enjoyed Daddy-Longlegs by Jean Webster as young readers. How odd to reconnect over a book that was written in 1912, long before either of us was born. 


I wonder how many of us read those same books? Who were your favourite authors or characters? Did you write as a child?  Has reading enriched your life? My love of reading lead me to study English and French literature at university, to work in a bookshop and for a book distributor, leading to my career as a teacher-librarian.

Comments

  1. I read all the Jalna books! I didn't discover the Anne of Green Gables books until my own daughter was little. I remember reading through all the dog books, the Albert Payson Terhune books especially, crying through the sad parts. And then in junior high discovering Francis Parkinson Keys books and Lila Larrimore. I always seemed to like the old books instead of the more contemporary ones. I still have the last two authors' books on my shelves today and must try them again to see if they still make me happy. I don't really remember titles of books my elementary school teachers read us, but remember they did, usually as we put our heads down on the desk after lunchtime.

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    1. I loved series books when I was young. I didn't read too many animal stories although I did read Black Beauty. I'm weeding books at home right now. I tried to read Madame Castel's Lodger but I gave up. I did read Steamboat Gothic in my younger days. Right now, I'm trying Not Now, But Now by M.F.K Fisher. It's an odd novel. It's surprising that in the early days of the 20th century when Canada had such a small population that we had such prolific writers as L.M. Montgomery and Mazo de la Roche.

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  3. I still love to read children's books. I walked to the public library when I was a girl and checked books out and learned to love reading at an early age. Love this post! It's nice to meet a kindred spirit! Hugs, Diane

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    1. That early experience with libraries creates readers for life. I love children's books and I think that everyone can enjoy a great kid's book .

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