It is not surprising to me that I love to read. Both my mother and father were avid readers. Our home always held loads of books. When I was a senior in high school, I took a class called "Individualized Reading." The course goal was to read a certain number of pages by the end of the class. I can remember my mother's enthusiasm in looking over the list of book options. I remember her encouraging me to read Les Miserables, The Good Earth,Gone With the Wind, and many other classics from the list (hmmm, I bet I still have that list ... somewhere ...).
I also remember my mother having a set of books which she had loved from her childhood called The Honeybunch Books. She originally read a set belonging to her grandmother, but happened upon a set later in life and snatched them up. Here is what her Honeybunch books looked like (although she did say that her grandmother's set looked different):
This same exact thing happened to me shortly after my husband and I moved to DeKalb. I don't believe we even had children yet. I was spending a leisurely afternoon (there will come a day when I have those again, right?) in a used book store and chanced upon a complete 10 volume set of Collier's Junior Classics for only $15. I knew immediately that I had to have them.
My parents had purchased the Collier's Encyclopedia set when we were children. They probably decided that this extra set of junior classics would be beneficial. I clearly remember being read stories from these books (as well as reading them on my own when I was a bit older).
Sadly, while my ES was in the best years for exploring the stories, my set was in storage (we lived in a small house in DeKalb and just didn't have room for all my books). Lately, I've been reading from the set to my younger boys and they are really enjoying it (plus I've noticed my husband and ES also listening in). At this point, we have only read from the first volume, but I can't wait to get to the others (perhaps a good goal for summer reading).
Volume One is entitled, A,B,C, Go and contains nursery rhymes, folk tales and poems. My absolute favorites from this volume would have to be the story of "The Five Chinese Brothers" by Claire Hutchet Bishop, and the poem, "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," by Eugene Field.
Volume Two, Once Upon a Time, contains fables and folk tales organized by country of origin. This is the volume which clinched the deal for me, since I have never seen my favorite from this volume anywhere else. It is a folk story called "Soap, Soap, Soap," retold by Richard Chase. We loved it so much, while growing up, that my older brother Mark memorized the entire three and a half page story and would recite it with a southern drawl.
Volume Three, Magic in the Air, holds more favorite stories: Pinocchio, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Borrowers, Winnie-the-Pooh, Mr. Toad, Twenty-One Balloons and others. Volume Four, Just Around the Corner, features stories from other lands (but none of them stand out as ones I remember loving). Volume Five, In Your Own Backyard, contains stories from our own country. It includes many, but my favorites were "The Wolf Pack," by Laura Ingalls Wilder, "Experiment 13," by Robert McCloskey, and "The One Hundred Dresses," (which I remember reading numerous times) by Eleanor Estes.
Volume Six, Harvest of Holidays, provides selections for the many holidays we celebrate in America (selections like "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address," and Walt Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain." Volume Seven, Legends of Long Ago, presents tales from the "Arabian Nights", mythology, epics and tall tales. Volume Eight, Roads to Greatness, is a compilation of many short biographies, including such individuals as: Robert E. Lee, Helen Keller, Gandhi, Samuel L. Clemens, Thomas Edison, and Edgar Allen Poe.
Volume Nine, Call of Adventure, holds some of my favorites like: "Johnny Tremain," by Esther Forbes, "Lassie, Come Home," by Eric Knight, and "Black Beauty," by Anna Sewell. Volume Ten, Gifts from the Past, contains stories from many classic writers like: Twain, Verne, Austen, Stevenson, Poe, Dickens, Bronte, Irving, Scott, Cooper and Alcott.
I recently found out that my parents still have their set of Collier's Junior Classics and even have it on a shelf. I suggested they loan them, for a time, to my youngest brother, whose kids are still under 10. I wouldn't dare suggest that they give them away, since I know how I feel about my own set. I may never willingly part with them!