As I walk down this path of writing my own books, I have been reflecting on the books that have influenced me the most throughout my life. This week, we discuss what books were rockin’ for me back in the 70s and early 80s. What stories kept this nerdy young boy busy for hours on end and asking to go visit the library each week, sometimes more than once?
Like many kids growing up then, I read the Little Golden Books, and eventually moved on to Doctor Seuss, Hardy Boys, and books by Judy Bloom (Freckle Juice being my favorite). I really enjoyed reading growing up, but three things really stood out in my reading that had a profound impact on me to this day. You can see my growth as a reader and passion for books reflected in each stage.
Read-Along Record Books
When I was still mastering the art of reading, but past the stage of being read to by my parents, I had a stack of Read-Along books on records and checked out others from the library. Wish I still had them, to be honest, as they would be fun to listen to now. I have fond memories of the wilderness adventures of Davy Crocket, Batman and Robin defeating criminals, some classic monster tales, and I believe some stories about Disney characters. Hearing the words read while I read along, plus looking at all the pictures, really brought the book to life. I am sure these early books on album are a significant reason I love audiobooks today. More discussion of audiobooks to come when we get to #AdultKnight, as my school days lacked in the spoken book.
A Read About Me Book
My parents encouraged my love for reading and strengthened my imagination by subscribing to a series of books that were customized with my name as a major character. Suddenly, I was a character in the stories I read! I went on adventures with robots, bees, geese, circus animals, Sesame Street, and even the Seven Dwarfs! My mom kept these books for years then passed them along to me for my library. Just seeing them brought back so many memories of hours spent on adventures with my new friends and a desire to tell more stories of my adventures. I would spend hours telling stories to Muffet, my dog, and sometimes to actual people…glimmers of the early game master and someday author.
I feel I inherited a lot of my passion (definitely part of my name) for reading from my late grandfather, Thomas A. Knight. He loved reading and would often share the stories he read with me on our fishing trips, or regale me when he found a book in a rummage sale that he had been hoping to read again. You see, my grandfather enjoyed the classics. Even later in life when reading was more difficult, he would seek out the large text Reader’s Digest Condensed versions of the classics so he could keep enjoying the stories he had loved his entire life. So, as my reading ability progressed, my grandfather started loaning me his books so we could talk about these great stories more. I grew up reading incredible stories like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (I felt the hardest book I had ever read at the time), and one book that would change me forever…Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Reading all these classics of literature built a foundation of incredible storytelling in my soul (and really prepared me well for later English assignments in school). I have my own copies of many of the classics now and reread them every few years as I still really enjoy them. But of all those classics, reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea had me enraptured from the very beginning. Already quite the nerd at the time, the science embedded into the story fascinated me! I read and re-read this book so many times then sought out other Verne stories. My love of science fiction literature was kindled from this one book as much as Close Encounters of the Third Kind pulled me into scifi cinema.
That gives you a glimpse into the #ChildKnight’s early reading that continues to influence me today. What books influenced you as a child?
Check back next week as we delve into the not-so-angsty reading habits of a #TeenageKnight.