My Grandma on my father’s side was a librarian—first in a school, then overseeing an entire county’s worth of school libraries (that sounds like it might be close to my dream job), and she even went to night school to earn her master’s degree in Library Sciences at Emory. By the time I came around she had retired, but there were still plenty of remnants of her lifelong love of reading: books for every birthday, bookcases full of her favorite books ( especially British mysteries), and my very favorite of all—a trunk full of children’s books down in the basement. You better believe that was one of my favorite places to play whenever we visited. Can you imagine opening a trunk that is seemingly bottomless… containing piles of books? Every time we visited, I seemed to find a new book at the bottom. Rather heavenly!
I’m not even sure how those books accumulated in the trunk—probably books given as gifts, or added for my older cousin, or books that had been weeded out of long-ago school libraries; some were even signed by the author or illustrator. But there was one place in Grandma’s house where there was no mistaking why the books were set aside—they were her favorites. In a cloth bag behind a bedroom door (it was always in the same place) were just three books:
Herbie’s Troubles, written by Carol Chapman; illustrated by Kelly Oechsli
Everybody Cooks Rice, written by Norah Dooley; illustrated by Peter J. Thornton
Dr. DeSoto, written and illustrated by William Steig
These were the books that my Grandma read aloud to me over and over. During the time that my family lived two hours away, we visited most weekends and she probably read at least one or two or all of them each time we came. I loved to hear the same stories again and again. Sometimes I would bring a special request up from the trunk in the basement to be read aloud too.
As I’ve begun thinking about packing up our tiny little townhouse, I’ve naturally started to think about what is practical and what is sentimental and what is just junk that I’ve carried around for years. But these books will just have to make the journey to California, no question. So I thought that I might do a little series on the blog showcasing the books from my Grandma’s Bag and some of my favorites that made it into my home from Grandma’s Trunk. Stay tuned!