My Head was Filled with Stories.

(Note:  I grew up in the 70s. Adarna House was just in its infancy, and Filipino children’s books as we knew it, were mostly dumbed-down collections of myths and legends. Adarna House was the game changer in coming up with original stories that sought to fill in gaps in the literary education of Filipino grade school children and in introducing the concept of books not merely for instruction but entertainment as well.)

The very first book I ever took home from the library was a Golden Book/Disney edition of A A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh which must have looked something like this book I found on the web.  And I remember this very well.  I felt so very grown up borrowing my first book because they did not issue library cards earlier than the second grade.

I loved the illustrations.  I thought that the chubby Winnie the Pooh who didn’t have underpants looked so particularly cute and very funny.  I began borrowing more books after that.

I loved picture books about children who lived in countries where snow fell and whose houses had fireplaces, chimneys, and who rode their bobsleds during winter.  These books took me away from my family’s tiny, cramped apartment in the middle of Cubao.  I filled my hours outside of school reading about a world so unlike my own.

Later I will graduate into the detective adventures of Judy Bolton, the Dana Girls, the Bobbsey Twins and the more popular Nancy Drew.  I also followed the St Clare’s and Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton.  Both series were about English children in boarding schools.

Then there was Little House on the Prairie on TV.  I loved the TV series so much that I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in our library.  Which led me to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and sequels, Gene Stratton Porter’s A Girl of the Limberlost, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, and L M Montgomery’s Anne of the Green Gables and the Avonlea series.

I reread the Brothers Grimm’s and Andersen’s fairytales in the unabridged editions and fell in love with fairy tales all over again.  I also began reading the books on which my favorite movies were based—JM Barie’s Peter Pan, PL Travers’ Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pinocchio, Ian Fleming’s (yes, the same man who created the James Bond Series) Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Maria von Trapp’s autobiographical The Von Trapp Family Singers (on which the musical and the movie The Sound of Music were based).  I had two real favorites around that time, and these were Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  It was in the fifth grade that I discovered Edgar Allan Poe’s dark collection of short stories (our grade school library had such an excellent collection of classic literature) entitled The Murders in the Rue Morgue.  I was so intrigued by it that I borrowed it, and also because it included “The Raven” which I had seen on TV starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.  This got me started on books that didn’t have pictures or art plates at all.

Needless to say, after that, my taste in reading became more sophisticated.  My insatiable appetite for unusual plots, characters an settings introduced me to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and the unconventional Heathcliff with whom I instantly fell in love (and I was only about twelve?).  Then I started reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter but I got bored and eventually dropped it.  After that there really wasn’t much else to read because I’d finished up all the books in our  library—and I had yet to graduate from grade school!

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