Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Writer's Beginnings

In her acclaimed memoir, One Writer's Beginnings, Eudora Welty tells of her childhood reading experiences in the early 1900's in Jackson, Mississippi. Eudora eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for her writing and earned worldwide recognition as one of the finest American fiction writers. I was charmed by her detailed description of the books and reading in her home.

I learned from age two or three that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to. My mother read to me. She'd read to me in the big bedroom in the mornings, when we were in her rocker together, which ticked in rhythm as we rocked, as though we had a cricket accompanying the story. She'd read to me in the diningroom on winter afternoons in front of the coal fire, with our cuckoo clock ending the story with "Cuckoo" and at night when I'd got in my own bed. I must have given her no peace. Sometimes she read to me in the kitchen while she sat churning, and the churning sobbed along with any story . . . She was an expressive reader. When she was reading "Puss in Boots," for instance, it was impossible not to know that she distrusted all cats.

It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them -- with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms . . .

Neither of my parents had come from homes that could afford to buy many books, but though it must have been something of a strain on his salary, as the youngest officer in a young insurance company, my father was all the while carefully selecting and ordering away for what he and Mother thought we children should grow up with. They bought first for the future . . .

I was presented, from as early as I can remember, with books of my own, which appeared on my birthday and Christmas morning. Indeed, my parents could not give me books enough. They must have sacrificed to give me on my sixth or seventh birthday -- it was after I became a reader for myself -- the ten-volume set of Our Wonder World. These were beautifully made, heavy books I would lie down with on the floor in front of the diningroom hearth, and more often that the rest volume 5, Every Child's Storybook, was under my eyes.

What are some of your kids' favorite books?

Please note: I did not receive any compensation or free merchandise in exchange for my written review or my opinion about this book.


  1. hey! we l-o-v-e books around here! my four 1/2 year old pretty much adores any book. my favorite is thrift shopping for children's books and finding them at a steal-of-a-price.


  2. Books are treasures to be found. I love looking for an interesting, captivating book that I would enjoy. I love children's books that have beautiful pictures in them, and I believe its hereditary... my dad loves books, and so do I.

  3. I read her "The Optimist's Daughter" and also "On Writing"! I want to read more. She is often quoted by Katherine Paterson, my favorite children's book author.


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