Hunter: Putting The Books Away

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This year, commentator Edith Hunter’s spring cleaning included a box of books – and a touch of nostalgia.

(HUNTER)  Grandson Sammy was 17 in April.  He’s the youngest of my grandchildren.  When he was 2 years old, and until he was about 12 he spent quite a bit of time with me.

I had arranged a low shelf filled with books to which he could go and select whatever book he would like me to read to him.  Most of the books were tried and true titles that I had enjoyed with my four children and then with two earlier grandchildren.

The shelf has remained untouched for quite a few years and I decided, sadly, that it was time to put the books away.  My big old iMac was nearby, so I listed the books as I put them in a large cardboard box.

There was one cloth book, "All By Himself", illustrating skills like zipping up a zipper, putting a button through a button hole, and so forth.

There were several alphabet books including an early one on linen, and the Romney Gay ABC.

Then there was Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s "Fix It Please", a great favorite which tells of all the broken or damaged things that a helpful father or mother could fix.

There were many Lois Lenski titles: "Papa Small", "The Little Train", "The Little Farm"; and many Marjorie Flack titles: "Tim Tadpole and The Big Bull Frog", "The Restless Robin", and "The Story About Ping."  I wonder if any children today know these once popular books?

"Cyril The Squirrel" and "Binky’s Fire" were favorites.  And of course "The Story of Ferdinand."  There was "Make Way For Ducklings" always followed by a real trip to the Boston Public Gardens.  Walt Disney’s version of the "Johnny Appleseed" story was read again and again, as was "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" and the delightful follow-up "Mike’s House."

The series of Berenstain Bears titles were more recent publications, and although some people find them too didactic, I like them.  The books deal with such things as the first visit to the doctor and to the dentist, bad dreams and telling the truth.  Also new since my children, "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney" that deals with a child’s confrontation with death.

On a more technical level we read "Let’s Look Under The City", a simple explanation of how various utilities arrive at apartments in the city.  I suppose now there would need to be an explanation of WiFi – although we wouldn’t look under the city for that.

We read "The Real Book of Real Trains" and "The Real Book of Real Trucks."  And I purchased new for Sammy the "Children’s Illustrated Dictionary".

Inherited from my husband Armstrong’s childhood was a lovely large illustrated "Aesop For Children".

Putting the books away in a box was a little like a funeral.

I wonder if my great-grandchildren will find these books as quaint as we found the children’s books on Aunt Mary’s bookshelf?

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