My childhood reading habits were shaped by weekly visits to the public library, Children’s Choice Book Club packages that came in the mail, and my parents’ generosity in buying books every time we set foot in a bookstore. One of my earliest memories is of following along to a homemade audio book of New Blue Shoes hat my mother made for me.
Food and families have always been two of my favorite things to read about. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was beloved from the first time I picked it up, and Bread and Jam for Frances delighted me (and made me hungry) with its rhymes and descriptions of food. My first cookbook, given to me on my 7th birthday, became a treasured possession. During the middle grade years I made friends with the characters in Understood Betsy and Mandy and adored stories about big families like All-Of-A-Kind Family and Cheaper by the Dozen. I read everything I could find by Lois Lowry, from the Anastasia series to The Giver to Number the Stars.
In high school my focus shifted to theology and biographies; those interests followed me to college but I also escaped into novels when time permitted. After graduating and getting married, my husband and I loved exploring our local library. During that time I started gravitating towards books about education, but I also enjoyed learning about nutrition and food culture vicariously through my husband. It was also the time when we discovered the joy of reading novels aloud together in the evenings. When I went to graduate school for educational psychology I read for pleasure on the bus twice a day even though I probably should have been studying. During the summers when I was free of academic responsibilities I read everything from The Weight of Glory and A Severe Mercy to Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter.
Having never outgrown kids lit, I started building my own collection of picture books and children’s novels right after I got my first job and had a bit of money to spend. I bought old favorites, but also discovered books like Brambly Hedge and Betsy-Tacy that I wish I’d known about when I was a girl. Newly published works like The Penderwicks and The Tale of Despereaux weren’t around when I was growing up, but I am eager to introduce them to my own daughter during her childhood. When she was born in early 2009 board books like Jamberry and Each Peach Pear Plum stormed our house en masse. Of course, there’s a special spot on our kids lit bookshelf for my favorite theological books, which include Peter’s First Easter, Love Is…, and The Big Picture Story Bible.
Now that I’m (mostly) grown up my literary comfort foods are Jane Austen, Lauren Winner, C.S. Lewis, Chaim Potok, Barbara Pym, memoirs, biographies, educational theory — and cookbooks. Book club discussions with Sarah and a few other friends are one of the highlights of every month. I love perusing booklists. I also love the satisfaction of finding the perfect book to give as a gift.. One of my dreams is to read through the entire list of Caldecott and Newbery medal winners. When I’m not belly laughing with my 1-year-old or adding books to my ridiculously long to-read list, I enjoy sewing, making Blurb photo books, doing house projects with my husband, and watching period dramas.