Archive for February 3rd, 2011

Childhood Literary Influences

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE books are the earliest influence I can remember (other than Dr. Seuss) that made me want to become a writer. Well, Dr. Seuss didn’t make me want to be a writer so much as he made me want to learn to read. And I did learn to read as a preschooler, through the Dr. Seuss books. I didn’t go to Kindergarten (it didn’t exist in my little backwoods community and this was a few decades ago!), and, because I’m born in January, I was 6 and a half by the time I entered grade one. I would have been bored to tears if I hadn’t learned to read before grade one.

I most likely “taught myself” to read because my older sister, two grades ahead of me in school, would sit and read with my parents for her homework. I was a bit competitive, so was in there like a dirty shirt. If Big Sis was learning to read, then, by gum, I was learning to read, too!

So by the time I entered grade one, at six and a half, I was reading at a grade three level. Big Sis was in grade three. Makes sense.

My grade three teacher, Mrs. Brady, loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and read them to us every day. I fell in love with them, too. I must have read each book three times over the next couple of years. I identified with Laura because she had dark hair and had to wear pink all the time whereas her blonde sister got to wear blue. Yes, my mother was forever forcing me into pink. I was a tomboy (which is weird, because I have no athletic ability whatsoever…oh, yeah, I was competing with my brother, the only boy, for my father’s attention—that’s why I was a tomboy) (have I mentioned I’m a middle child?). As I said, I was a tomboy, and what tomboy wants to wear pink?

We also lived in a very tiny farming community that, to this day, doesn’t have a stop sign or a store of any kind. Laura came from a pioneering family, and as a child I felt pretty much that way about myself. Especially when a bear happened into the yard.

Did you know there’s a blog devoted to all things Laura Ingalls Wilder? Well, there is. It’s called Laura’s Little Houses. And it’s worth a visit.

My favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book was ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK. Do you have a favorite Laura book? Or a favorite author from your childhood? One who inspired your love of reading or led to dreams of becoming a writer?

My grade seven teacher loved Ray Bradbury and read Bradbury short stories to us nearly every day. Ray was fun. But Ray wasn’t Laura.

It’s Laura for me!