Well, in my case it was a little book called Bobby Bushtail. I still remember the beginning: Bobby Bushtail was a squirrel, and a naughty rascal too...
It was all in rhyme and a good story about naughty Bobby who won't come home when his sister tells him to and then gets trapped in the snow until his daddy finds him.
Other books that were important in my childhood were Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and then later The Famous Five. The Wind in the Willows. A little Princess and The Secret Garden. The Chronicles of Narnia. And later still The Lord of the Rings. In my teens I also loved school stories about girls who went to exotic boarding schools in the Swiss Alps. (and I confess to sneaking a few of my mom's adult books up under the covers)
So what was your first book? Were you always a reader as a child?
LUCY BURDETTE: Absolutely, yes, always a reader! I still have my first book--it's called THE SCARY THING by Laura Bannon (1956). It's in sad shape, my nickname colored inside (spelled wrong:), and crayon marks all through. Plus it looks like someone chewed on a corner. But a wonderful story--the first of many! I still give books to family and friends for any new babies...
HALLIE EPHRON: I remember my mother reading chapters of The Wizard of Oz to me... but surely that can't have been the first book. Vicariously, I remember Pat the Bunny being read to my sister Amy when she was little. I still give it as a baby gift. Loved to stick my finger through the ring hole and play peekaboo with the little girl. But the current editions aren't made nearly as well as the old ones.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: My FIRST book? Hmm. The first book I really remember is...Pooh, I guess. In fact, in a burst of amazingly unlikely organization, I think I know where it is! Here--and you can see how battered it is..it's a 1956 edition. Can you see the pencil marks all over it? I was also big on A HOLE IS TO DIG.
I remember my father reading MANY MOONS to me, by James Thurber. I loved it, still do, and I bet I could recite the whole thing. We also had it on a 78 rpm record, and I would listen and listen.
Princess Lenore had fallen ill from a surfeit of raspberry tarts, and said she would not be well until she got the moon. The Royal Wizard told the King: "I know where you are when you are at sixes and sevens, I know how much "is" you have to have to make an "are." But the moon? The moon is a million miles away, and made of green cheese. No one can get the moon for Princess Lenore."
RHYS: Oh, of course Pooh. How could I forget him. And all the poems. They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace.... still love them today.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: The first books I can remember choosing for myself were - I can't believe I remember these titles - Danny and the Dinosaur. Henry and Ribsy. Beezus and Ramona. Apparently I was drawn to books with two names in the title. something about a bull. Ferdinand? When I was a little older the horse and dog books kicked in...Walter Farley's Black Stallion series and Jim kjelgaard's Red series.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, the treasures I found cleaning out the bookshelves a couple of weeks ago! I have all three of the Milne books, Hank, and those are the first books I remember clearly, along with Robert Louise Stevenson's poems ("How would you like to go up in a swing, up in a swing so high...) I found Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, King of the Wind, Misty of Chincoteague, Treasure Island, The Jungle Book, and many more. And this 1947 copy of The Silver Robin, spine broken, pages yellowed and tattered. It's about a little robin named Bobby, and I loved it. Maybe that's why I wanted to be an ornithologist!
PS Rhys, I didn't read Enid Blyton--I don't think you could get them here--but my daughter read almost all of them. Whenever we went to England when she was little, I came home with a suitcase full Famous Fives, etc. I still have all of them.
ROSEMARY: I was a big Marguerite Henry fan too. I recently bought a copy of King of the Wind at a tag sale and I was surprised at the tone regarding other cultures. It was warm. They were exotic. Not the enemy.
RHYS: So what is the first book you remember? And other favorites of your childhood?
And Lisa Alber, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can give your contact info to Susan Elia MacNeal, as you have won the copy of His Majesty's Hope.