I had one of life's most wonderful surprises when I was eight. I can no longer recall if it was Christmas, or Valentine's Day, or my birthday. Or if there was any occasion at all. All I remember is Ma taking me to the spare bedroom and pointing me toward the cabinet.
There, inside, was a wide, magical world waiting for me. No, it wasn't the 20-volume blue-and-white Grollier's Encyclopedia. It was too "grown-up" for me. Instead, it was the row of books that went along with it: a colorful set that introduced me to the wonderful world of fables and stories and fairy tales.
From Through Golden Windows' pages sprang colorful characters: Riki Tiki Tavi, Lottie, Chin Ling the Chinese Cricket, Little Black Sambo. Before the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and eventually, the dreamy boys and girls of Sweet Dreams, they were my bedside companions.
The books, of course, are but musty memories now. But they are still well-loved because they served their purpose: they inculcated in me a great love for reading and the printed word. A love that I wish to pass on to my daughter.
Last Christmas, my sister gave me a copy of 100 Books for Girls to Grow On. It has summaries of books ranging from a 25-minute read to those that have over 400 pages. There are discussion questions as well, notes about the authors, recommended readings and suggested activities to get a feel of the book.
Some of the books are familiar: Eleanore Estes' The Hundred Dresses, S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The rest I look forward to reading with Gianna. In time, I hope the scent of a book will also trigger in her wonderful memories of reading and of unforgettable stories.