BabelBabe's meme started me thinking about books I loved as a child. I started writing some of them down (after all, we'll have to have these in the house for the young'uns soon) and then realized how many of these books I don't remember reading so much as I do hearing the voices of those who read them to me.
My mother always finished my bed-time ritual with Goodnight Moon. I remember listening as she re-told the old favorite, snuggled down in my blankets, knowing the words but loving the way her voice washed over me. I recognize some of her cadences in the way I read about the red balloon and the bowl of mush to my kids.
My first chapter book? The Wind in The Willows, read to me by my father, who swept me away to imagine life in a hole on the riverbank, deep and green and quiet. I used to lean out of bed to peer at the book, hoping that the type went all the way down the page and that he wouldn't stop. Chapter breaks were awful.
My grandparents told me stories from the Bible. I don't remember the actual book being there, just the rhythms of their sweet clear Southern voices and their hands gesturing, trying to share their joy with me.
My paternal grandfather was a different sort of man. I'm not sure he knew what to do with a child in the house - deep down he was probably afraid I'd burst into tears or wet my pants or something intolerable. I don't have any memories of he and I bonding over books until one night he came in, found me staring goggle-eyed at the titles in his library, and before shooing me off to bed, let me have his copies of Tom Sawyer and The Travels of Marco Polo. I read them, loved them, and loved feeling grown-up and accepted while discussing them with him. Sitting on the creaky leather sofa, he'd answer questions about the story and patiently correct my mauled pronunciations. Granddad was a well-traveled and well-read man - I'm sorry we didn't find more to talk about.
There are books I remember reading but can't quite remember the titles - that awful feeling of just-on-my-tongue. Some were finds suggested by the small-town librarian where I would spend lazy afternoons, some I know I read in high school. Perhaps when my children are going through school they'll bring them home and I'll remember their bright covers like glimpsing an old friend.