Which Childhood Book Influenced Your Life?
Some stories seep into your bones and stick in your memory like marrow, giving life to your emotions. The fortunate, during childhood, have a parent, friend, or teacher who introduces them to at least one of those stories.
When I was in the sixth grade, my class joined another to hear a teacher read us the children’s novel Blue Willow. Written in 1940 by Doris Gates, Blue Willow tells the plight of a migrant farm family toward the end of the Great Depression, and centers around the young daughter Janey Larkin.
This was my first introduction to migrant farm workers and it rallied my sympathy for those poor families constantly on the move, no close friends or roots, working hard and living in less than ideal housing. It would be dishonest of me to say I remember everything about the story, or even the end, but I do remember that Janie’s experiences were a far cry from those of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The book affected me to the point that, for years, I wanted a blue willow plate like Janey’s prized possession. It represented her stability and a former, happier way of life. While my own childhood was secure and happy, it still forged a strange connection between us.
I’ve come close on several occasions to buying a set of the tableware, and still stop to look at the ones I find while walking through antique and collectibles stores. Each time, that connection comes to mind.
When my grandmother died I received her blue willow dishes. I love them and remembered them being so special when we would visit in my youth. I’d love to use them, but don’t want to run the risk of breakage.
As for influencial childhood books…I read everything that Jean Little wrote. I just related to her characters. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that she was blind. Which is interesting since the other book that infulenced me significantly was Helen Keller’s biography.
I don’t think I’ve read any of her books, but that’s what makes reading fascinating. You never know when a story is going to stay with you.
I bet those dishes are beautiful. I inherited my grandmother’s Homer Loughlin set and love them, but I’m the same way, Tina. I hesitate using them because I don’t want to break any of the pieces. We’re just sentimental fools. 🙂