My Book About Me: Bridging Generations
I expect traditional books to stay in print for decades. The same doesn't necessarily hold true of journals you write in. Thus I was surprised to see that Dr. Suess' My Book About Me was still being sold on a wide scale and still being written in by a new generation of children. Didn't I have one of those when I was little?
Oh, yes, I did have that book. And the fact is, I still have it, though it's been more than 30 years since I wrote in it. It's hardback, and it still looks the same: the penciled and re-penciled letters and numbers, the eraser marks. As Emerson said when beholding a river that he had pondered as a six-year-old child, "These are the same, but I am not the same."
I suspect I got my book for Christmas when I was in first grade -- back when "I can read it myself" was still a big deal. One page declares that on my next birthday, I would have seven candles. In classic first grade style, the seven is written backwards. There are pages, though, that were probably done later than first grade. I am guessing that I was in second grade when I wrote that I wanted to be a teacher (in mostly cursive letters) and that I was older yet when I copied a picture of a purple and yellow Dr. Seuss bird.
I did indeed become a teacher. The book now appeals to the "auntie" in me and to the teacher in me. I've revisited the book and included some tips for using it.
I've been musing over reviews. Parents sometimes opt to give their children lots of help in capturing details of their lives and recording them in this yellow hardcover book. Mine didn't. That's how I happened to misunderstand some directions and jot -- or should I say meticulously print -- some misinformation. There is a two-page spread for autographs. At the top, the directions note that most children can't get them all. I think I remember asking my mother what an autograph was. She told me. I didn't recognize that I was supposed to use the pages to actually collect autographs. I thought I was merely supposed to write down whether I had them or not. I wrote "I didn't" on every line on those two pages! (You can see a bit of the autograph collection I didn't have below.)
Mementos from a Long Ago Self...
I also wrote that it was 80 steps from my house to the first store. Hmm... We lived between four and five miles from town and I had never walked from my home to any store. Still, 80 sounded like a big number. 80 was as old as my grandmother.
I have thought about sharing the book with my nieces. I don't think my brother can share his.
My parents both died when I was in my mid- to late thirties. At some point well before that, I nabbed the book from my parents' house. I am not sure if I had the foresight to nab my brother's book -- or if I found it at all. I do remember that my brother had a copy once upon a time. I think he got his before I got mine. Perhaps it was a first grade ritual. The cover was slightly different on his copy; whereas mine is shiny lemon yellow, his was more of a matte finish yellow. I don't recall how much of it was actually written in.
Ah, the passing of years! Next year, the younger niece will be in first grade. Hmmm... If I brought her a book at Christmas, we could work on it together...
Here is a book by another former child (long since grown).
Here it is: the very book that still sits on my shelf! I recommend the hardcover version, so that it will survive through the decades as mine has.
I recommend a little more encouragement so that all the pages get finished. I don't think I knew, as a child, that the cover was supposed to have a photo affixed. I would have found it a little scary to put glue on the shiny hardcover of a book. My recommendation here: photo corners.