I grew up on Little Golden Books.
I was raised on Little Golden Books.
I was a child and very proud of myself for having learned how to read. I was so proud of myself when I finished reading my first Little Golden Book without my mother’s help.
The first book I read by myself was The Poky Little Puppy.
I adored The Poky Little Puppy. I adored it so much my mother bought me another Little Golden Book. Three Little Kittens. I was enchanted by Three Little Kittens, too.
For months I sat with my two Little Golden Books. I treasured those two stories. And I was so proud of myself for being able to read them without my mother’s help.
But she grew concerned that I seemed to care about nothing else but my two Little Golden Books. She grew worried so she bought me more. Ones like Rupert the Rhinoceros. The Golden Book of Birds. My Little Golden Book About the Sky. My mother thought that expanding my vocabulary of Little Golden Books might stimulate me to explore more of the world that was contained within them.
So she bought me more and more books. And I read them voraciously. They became my life. All the while, I knew nothing of the world other than what my Little Golden Books told me.
I saved all my Little Golden Books. I’m an old man now. I’ve spent all my life collecting every Little Golden Book ever published.
I’m an old man now, and, still, all I know of the world is what I’ve learned through my Little Golden Books. I have hundreds of Little Golden Books in my collection with subjects ranging from astronomy to botany to biology. I have Little Golden Books that have given me knowledge and wisdom about life through the fables, nursey rhymes and fairy tales contained in them. I have Little Golden books that have taught me about numbers, farm animals, firemen, Christmas and God. They’ve taught me about the circus and the zoo and Howdy Doody and babies and life in the city.
I’m proud of what I know. I know more about birds and the sky than most people know. I know more about life through the metaphorical truths of Mother Goose, the Brothers Grimm, Peter Pan and Noah’s Arch than most other people know.
My Little Golden Books have taught me prayers. They’ve taught me how to be thankful. They’ve taught me how to be mannered. They’ve taught me about numbers and planets and the ABC’s.
I’m proud of my encyclopedic knowledge of Little Golden Books. I’m proud that I can recall and recite each one, picture-for-picture and word-for-word.
Sometimes, in a moment when I’m not reading a Little Golden Book, I become aware of a hardship. I’ve heard about slow, agonizing deaths by cancer, starvation and viral disease. I’ve heard about genocide. I’ve heard about the devastations of divorce and infidelity. I’ve heard about drug addition and homelessness and poverty. I’ve heard about rape and molestation. And, even though I’ve never experienced any of them – neither first nor secondhand – the lessons from my Little Golden Books have taught me how to understand them. My Little Golden Books guide me in how to think and feel about any and all of them. Did I mention I have hundreds of Little Golden Books covering most subjects? Did I mention how I’ve memorized every one?
No, none specifically addresses cancer or genocide or pedophilia or bestiality. There’s no Little Golden Books titled Grandma Goes Blind From Her Diabetes or Fun with Cousin Luke and His Sheep. There’s no Little Golden Book on the Holocaust. Or natural disasters. Or suicide. Or opioid addiction. Or the plague. Or morbid obesity. But there’s Little Golden Books on God and prayers. There’s Little Golden Books on Hansel and Gretel, Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, The Lion’s Paw and Susie’s New Stove. Granted, living as I have with my collection of Little Golden Books, I’ve experienced few hardships. Yet, I have lots of metaphorical and archetypal frameworks in the forms of fables, fairy tales and nursery rhymes to make sense of all the hardships I’ve never experienced. More ways of understanding those things than you do, since you’re so preoccupied with all the mundane choices and chores in your day-to-day “living”.
Sometimes, in a moment when I’m not engrossed in a Little Golden Book, somebody will say life is more complicated than how my children’s books present it. Sometimes that even makes sense. So, when it does, I delve back into my collection of Little Golden Books to discover the more robust explanations that must be buried deeper within.
Yes, I’m very proud of myself for having learned how to read. For what would life be without the pleasure of so many books and all the knowledge and wisdom nestled within their pages?