Old-fashioned joy words that fit perfectly with the old-fashioned flavour of the tales I loved. Language suitable for Susan Coolidge and Louisa May Alcott, still evident in later tales by Enid Blyton and Edward Eager.
But also words like ‘cozy’ and ‘nourishing’. Stealing the sense of curling into a chair in the attic with Jo March, or settling at the table with crayons, craft paper and glue with Ramona, or snugging up to write in a diary with Arrietta Clock.
What is comforting and cozy about these stories is that they are known, they are familiar.
And I have revisited many of them as an adult reader before, but never in such a concentrated, deliberate way.
So it’s never been so clear — glaring at me from the lines of my reading log — that my childhood reading was so same-ish.
I spent my early years in a small city that was on the Underground Railroad in the southern tip of Canada; I visited Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden as a girl more often than I visited Boblo Island to ride the roller coaster. But the books that I read were all about white children.
The children I read about were not much different from me, neither in sex (I always chose stories featuring female characters), nor race nor class nor capacity.
At school, there was only one black girl in my small-city classroom. In my reading, there was Cassie Logan, in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.
I reached beyond my experience to read about dragons and magic rings and fantastic creatures; I didn’t read beyond my experience in m/any other way/s.
And it’s not that I mind going back, to see the reader that I was, the reader that I have been. For the most part, my summer series reading was just as I’d intended, delightful and nourishing.
But it’s also reminded me that the reader that I am today, the reader that I want to continue to be, sees the truth on other slants as well.
I can happily rediscover Ramona’s first day in kindergarten, ride the current in a teapot with Arrietta, travel Europe with Katy Carr, and hang out in the pedlar shop with the All-of-a-Kind family on a rainy day.
But there is something equally splendid and delightful and nourishing about knowing that though my experience of the world as a reader was once a narrow little spot, it’s been growing wider all the time.
What’s the last book that you read that widened your world?