Sunday, April 18, 2021

Child of the 1980's - Introduction to Reading


                One of the first accomplishments of any child along with walking and potty training is learning to read.  According to WebMD children often start to learn to read in First Grade.  Granted what they learn to read is very simple, usually a few words mixed with lots of colorful images.  These books can end up being very special to children as they are associated with a positive achievement.  I don’t know about anyone else but I can still remember the first books I learned to read on my own.  I am here to share a few of my favorites.  Let’s see how many great memories come flooding back with these titles, authors, and photos.

                My First Grade year in school was 1984.  I do not remember when exactly I first learned to read, that is a question my mother could answer.  However when I stop and think of the books I enjoyed as a child a few come to mind immediately.
One of Richard Scarry's Busytown Books

    There is a name that should be very familiar to all children of the 1980’s.  In my mind those old enough to have had concrete memories from the decade count, so basically 1975-1985 is your date range, anything after you’re a child of the 1990’s, sorry.  Anyway, that name is Richard Scarry.  Scarry was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1919, close to my home of Cape Cod.  His most well known books concerned that of Busytown, a place inhabited by anthropomorphic animals like cats, dogs, pigs, foxes, and others like the popular Lowly the Worm who rode in an apple car.  These books were published from the mid-1970’s on, right in the wheelhouse of all 1980’s children.

     Ironically even though Scarry gained a lot of his notoriety through his Busytown, including two animated series, his career began in 1949 as an illustrator for the equally beloved Little Golden Books.  In total Scarry would publish more than 300 books during his forty-five year career which ended with his death in 1994.  These books have sold more than 100 million copies and are still readily available today for all parents who loved them as children and want to keep that tradition alive.

                The other books I wanted to mention were by a man named Roger Hargreaves.  The name might not ring a bell but if I mentioned Mr. Men and Little Miss it might come flooding back.  The British author, born in 1935, created the Mr. Men series first beginning in 1971 with Mr. Tickle.  The books were simple and to the point.  Each was based around one particular characteristic of the man or miss.  Some of the Mr. Men characters included Mr. Greedy, Mr. Happy, Mr. Silly, Mr. Lazy, and Mr. Funny.  The books would tell a story focused around that one character trait.  The brightly colored main characters stood out and their colors and shapes changed to fit the special trait the book was about.
Mr. Tickle by Roger Hargreaves

     Hargreaves had gotten the inspiration for the series when his son Adam, who is now also an author, asked him what a tickle looked like.  That question led to thirty-nine Mr. Men books being released between 1971 and Hargreaves’ death in 1988.  Little Miss books followed in 1981 beginning with Little Miss Bossy.  There would be twenty-four Little Miss books published before his death as well.
     After Roger’s death his son Adam took over the franchise and is still publishing books to this day.  Total there are now eighty-five books between the two series which have combined to sell more than 100 million copies.  The new books as well as the classics are still readily available as well for those looking to stroll through childhood again.
     Those are just a few of the books I remember truly enjoying during my first few years of reading.  I am sure there are many others I have not mentioned.  What are your favorite picture books you remember during your childhood?  What made them special to you?  Do you share them with your children?

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