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What was Your First Book?

Updated on January 12, 2015
robertzimmerman2 profile image

Robert is from south-east Florida and serves the world as a reference librarian. Also a musician, Bob plays bass in a Indie cover band.

Book Art
Book Art

Reading is a big step!

Learning to read any language is a long process that begins with learning to speak, continues through learning how stories are constructed, how their language is constructed using an alphabet and phonetics until at some point it all "CLICKS" and the child (or adult in some cases) actually reads the words on a page in a book and realizes they have grasped the written word.

Often times this book is one the child has been "reading" for some time as their caregiver sits with them and reads the book to them. They memorize the story as the pages of pictures flow by and they point and interact within the story.

Now, for me there is one particular book that I distinctly remember this happening. I do not know for sure what age I was, likely between 3 and 4 years old. That is a guess but this memory is one of the earliest in my mind.

The reason I am writing this article is that just today I saw the cover of this book at work. You see, I am a librarian now and work at a busy public library in the Southeastern United States, Florida to be precise. When I saw this book on a cart, ready to be taken out and re-shelved, I grabbed it and told a coworker this story.

In my situation I learned to read at a young age as my Mother had been reading to me from the beginning. My Dad did not read to me but soon he was teaching me things I feel are just as important. How to use tools and how to fix all kinds of mechanical and electronic devices. Understanding devices is just as important a skill in today's world as reading, so "Thanks Mom & Dad!"

Anyway, let me tell you what happened as I described the event to my colleague.

Child reading
Child reading

"I Can Read!"

Most libraries are departmentalized because differing tasks are handled in different areas. The area I work in, the Reference Department, is located near the back of the library and I need to occasionally go to the Circulation Department (or CIRC) which is where the books (LOTS of them) are going in and out. The staff puts them onto carts separated by which area of the library they live on a shelf. There are lots of book carts crammed into the CIRC Department and there are paths you go through to get around back there. This is NOT where the public is allowed!

I walked through the door into the CIRC workroom an I had to walk by a young lady sitting on a stool to my left. She was checking in new books and is frequently there as this is a big part of her job. She is in her early 20's. I slip between her and a the central hub of book carts and I suddenly see the first book I could read myself sitting on the top of the Children's Beginning Reader cart. It must have just came in.

I grabbed the book and turned around to the young lady on the stool and said. "Mary, this is the first book I could read all by myself!"

Now I have two daughters, each slightly older than Mary, but she said. "Aww, that's so cute!"

I proceeded to tell her that one of my earliest memories is sitting down to read this book. It was my favorite because I had memorized the story from my mother reading it to me many times. But THIS TIME was different!

My Story Continues . . .

My memory of this event has always been very clear in my mind. I took my book and sat down on the floor of the living room. I opened my book as I had done many times, ready to replay the memorized story as I turned the pages. As I looked at the first words I stopped. I realized that I understood the letters and how the word was constructed and how they sounded together to form the word.

"I CAN READ!" I said but I was alone at the time so my parents missed the big moment. I tried the next word and it worked again! I stopped and a thought came to my mind.

"If I can read this, I can read anything!"

Mary thought this was pretty funny, imagining me, a "pre-geezer" of today as a little boy reading this book and again she said "Aww, that's so cute!"

And here it is! Go, Dog. Go!

I bet you have heard of this one, it's a classic beginning reader from 1961 by P. D. Eastman. Notice how it is part of a series called "I can read all by myself" books. Gee, funny how that works!

My other Favorite book

I then told Mary about my other favorite book from my childhood, A Fish out of Water by Helen Palmer, also from 1961. I described the basic plot, boy gets fish at pet store from Mr. Carp. Mr. Carp tells the boy to feed the fish "just a pinch" or "something may happen."

Ok, so you KNOW what the boy does, right? He feeds the fish a pinch but the poor fish looks so hungry the boy feeds him more, and more until the little boy dumps the whole box of fish food into the bowl, and then (of course),


I SOOO want to tell all of you the story like I told it to Mary but you will have to get your own and find out!

You will enjoy it more, trust me. I also told Mary that I have always thought that if I were extremely wealthy I would make a movie based on A Fish out of Water.

Starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Carp, by the way.

Now if you are thinking I am spending too much time gabbing with other employees, this whole thing took only about three minutes. Mary had a lot of books to check in and I had things to do as well.

Bob's Books Smackdown!

Which of Bob's Favorite Childhood Books you YOU like better?

See results

Ideas for Parents

So, as a parent, what are some activities we can do that will encourage children of any age to learn to read and to increase their reading skill as they grow? Here are some my wife and I used to help our two daughters become great readers.

1) Start Early! Now, when I say early, I do mean EARLY. In the Womb early! Both my wife and I regularly read to our daughters while in the womb. It is a great way for them to bond with the voices of both parents and I firmly believe that the baby picks up on language patterns.

2) Keep reading to them after they are born! Both of you, and other caregivers, will be holding and talking to the infant instantly anyway so why not include books? The earlier the newborn sees someone holding a book as they read the sooner the concept of books and reading will take hold.

3) Get them books of their own! Books come in many formats including light weight cloth or plastic and now digital formats of course. Tell your relatives and friends when they ask "What do you need?" to include infant books some times. Even if they pick one for an older child you can put it aside for later.

4) Get them a Library Card! Most Library Systems will let parents get a child of any age their own card so why not do it now? You do have YOUR Library Card, don't you???

5) Engage then in "environmental reading" as they grow! Words are all around us from signs to package labels. Teaching children to read food labels gets them two benefits, figuring out words phonetically and learning about nutrition! When they get old enough to type, show them a real computer with a keyboard (not just a tablet) and get them started on understanding that software are tools for modern life.

This Book is FULL of Ideas!

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Can't think of a plan to help your child learn to read? How about 100 lessons!


She's reading earlier than I did!

What was your first book?

Think back to when you were a child and you discovered the magic of books and reading. The stories took you to places you had never thought of and let you meet all different kinds of people and characters.

Tell us about your earliest book memories and how it shaped your life. My love of books and being an early reader lead me eventually to become a Public Librarian. Along the way I helped many people make the most of their computers and computer networks. I bet many of you "early readers" ended up helping people too! Tell us about the type of work you do and how reading at an early age helped you understand how to help others learn new things.

Tell us about your first book!

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    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 3 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until August 2018

      Robert, thanks for following. I love the enthusiasm for reading that you exude in this hub. I don't remember the very first book I could read alone. I imagine it was a Seuss book. The first book that grabbed me and wouldn't let me go was in the fourth grade. It was titled, Jungle Twins, by Irma Roberts, 1951.

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 3 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      Check with your local Public Library, most now offer free downloadable e-books to check out like regular books!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i never had read a ebook, don't know what it is like. Is it free?

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      My first one like you was Dick and Jane. Remember Spot? You never forget the first one you read.

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 3 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      I remember Dick & Jane but I was already reading by the time I saw those in school. Compared to Dr. Seuss, most anything else seemed too "normal" to me and I ended up loving Science Fiction!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      We are a family of avid readers... books are everywhere in each of our houses. Our three daughters had library cards barely out of their cribs. Our grandchildren now read, and have been read to, every day... Yes, reading is essential to existence... at least the existence we believe in. Thanks for sharing yours! ;-)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      My first book was about Dick, Jane, Baby and Spot the dog. I was 3, and my Daddy taught me to read. Books are one of my passions, they take me places I can't physically go. I'd be lost without books. I like your lalyout, and I see nothing wrong with either that or your writing. Thank you for sharing.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I wish I could remember my first book, but I don't think it was any of these. The little girl on the video is so cute and smart. Is there a reason why the mom's shirt is backwards and they are reading backwards as well?