Novel Completion Queries, Day Nine

Is the novel finished? NO

Today’s question: What’s the first book you remember reading — meaning, the first book you were able to read on your own, front to back, without help from someone else. If you can’t remember the title, describe the contents/story of the book.

My answer: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss, an author I suspect will turn up a lot here. I was reading when I was two so I don’t really remember not being able to read, but this was the first book I actually have a memory of reading.


167 Comments on “Novel Completion Queries, Day Nine”

  1. An Oz book, as a I recall. Not the first one, because I only actually saw a copy of that years later. Maybe ‘Marvelous Land of…’ or ‘Emerald City of…’?

  2. That’s an easy one. Go Dog Go. I read it thousands of times when I was little. I still love it. The racing, the romance, the dogs. What’s not to like?

  3. The first book I remember reading cover to cover was Rendezvous with Rama in third grade. I am sure there were many before, but that is the one that jumps out. I was voracious reader until I discovered girls…then I was distracted for 20 or 30 years…..

  4. “Big Dog, Little Dog,” by P. D. Eastman. I was 3.5. My mother started to read it to me (for the umpteenth time) before bed, and I stopped her and said “No, Mommy, I read it to you!”–and proceeded to do so with no mistakes. It helped that my parents and my maternal grandmother always helped me to follow the words along the page as they read to me, following each line of text with their finger. I’ve been an avid reader ever since, and I ended up with an English Lit degree.


  5. Tintin’s L’Île noire by Hergé, which I know for a fact is not the first book I read on my own, but it’s the first big kid book I read on my own. And that’s why I remember it so well.

  6. It began “Once upon a time.” I remember it mostly because my mother remembers it. I was going word by word and asking her each one, and she told me to stop, so I did, and just picked up the words I didn’t recognize from context instead of asking her. I took the training wheels off, so to speak.

    First book I took out from the library was “Buford the Little Bighorn” by Bill Peet.

  7. I was reading when I was 3, so I don’t remember for sure what the first one was. Probably something by Dr. Suess, but the one that sticks with me is P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? Still love the power shovel.

  8. I still remember the book I was reading when the words all “clicked” into place. It was about Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, and I was probably 4 or 5. The first science fiction story I ever read was when I was 8. It was “Outside the Universe” by Edmund Hamilton (I still have it. Thanks, Dad!). From there I graduated to the Grand Masters and others, and I haven’t looked back.

  9. I have no memory of reading books meant for children when I was a child. I don’t think it occurred to my parents to provide them to me, and so my first books were novels my father was reading (which I of course barely understood but remember being fascinated by). By the time my younger siblings were old enough to read and I first was acquainted with books written specifically for children, I was dumbfounded how simplistic and stupid and boring they were (by then I was nearly ten years old, after all!)..

  10. First ones I remember were the Dick and Jane books. Not sure if I read them prior to first grade or in first grade though. First books I remember taking out from the Bookmobile (mobile library branch that came to the neighborhood once a week) were the Space Cat books. I started SF early!

  11. The Big Jump and Other Stories, by Benjamin Elkin and Katherine Evans. I was about 4, maybe 5. And I picked it up again when my children were little, to read to them. And recently picked up a third copy, since the second copy fell apart. Preparing for the future …

  12. I don’t remember a lot of it, but my mother’s high school poetry book for English class when I was three. So you beat me by a year. I remember poems by Robert Service, as well as by other more well-known poets. Books are STILL my best friends.

  13. I think the first book I read cover to cover was. “The Boxcar Children” or something like that.
    About 4 siblings who for whatever reasons are on their own and find this big boxcar to live in.
    Then Anne McCaffrey took ahold of me and I have loved Science Fiction ever since.

  14. I don’t remember at all, though I do remember my parents making a big deal about me reading Stop signs and Cost Plus when I was 2. It’s bizarre that I know I read a ton of stuff (some of which got passed down to my own children), but I don’t physically remember reading any of it until I was much older. (I do remember watching Strawberry Shortcake, CHIPS, and Dungeons and Dragons on tv when I was younger.)

    I guess I remember reading a Suske and Wiske comic book (translated to English as Willy and Wanda) when I was 5 or 6 (in first grade). Also at that age I remember reading James and the Giant Peach. Oh, and some creepy Edward Lear/Edward Gorey stuff (mostly about death, though I’m not sure I understood it then). And I got into one of my dad’s totally inappropriate R. Crumb books (about a frog… there were also naked ladies). And I remember my mom calling The Giving Tree sadomasochistic. And a story book that was an allegory about the dangers of DDT. And A Wrinkle in Time. Wow, that must have been a really disturbing year, except for the Willy and Wanda.

  15. I’m sure I’d read other books before this, as I’d learned to read when I was two, but the first book that I clearly remember reading was Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy, Tacy, and Tib, which I found at a friend’s house when attending her birthday party; I ended up spending the whole party in a back room reading the book. I didn’t get invited to a lot of birthday parties after that, but I’m still a Betsy-Tacy fan decades later.

  16. I don’t remember physically reading any book until much later, certainly, than I did. Surely it was something short (like your Seuss) before what I do remember, which is some kind of mish-mash between The Great Brain or Ralph and the Motorcycle, but those are vague, I know I read them, I can see myself pulling them off the public library shelf… But a warring memory says it was definitely Heinlein’s Space Cadet before these. I can smell the old carpet in the room, feel the thin paperback between my fingers as my dad hands it to me. But really I’ve no idea at all what’s true.

  17. I learned to read with the “Alice & Jerry” books when I was 4, so that’s probably my answer. I also remember the first book my parents bought me through the Scholastic Books Fair at school – it was “Clifford the Big Red Dog.” I was a good reader at a young age (cheated on tests in kindergarten because I could read the answers at the bottom!), and was reading adult-length novels by 3rd grade, but “Alice & Jerry” came first. I especially enjoyed stories about their dog “Jip” – guess I’ve always had a soft spot for puppies. :-)

  18. I don’t remember which book it was. I do remember the day when my dad stopped giving me a dollar when I finished a book. I must have been about 4. In essence, he said that I was reading for fun, there was no need to pay me to read anymore.

  19. I don’t really remember reading any little kid books, not even Seuss. I’m sure I read them, they just didn’t stick in my memory. My money would be on Goodnight Moon as the first book I read cover to cover.

    The first book I remember reading was The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but not all of it.

    I think The Hobbit is the first one I remember finishing. I’d guess I probably was around 7.

  20. The 501 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss. My mom had started to read it to me, but she was really tired and told me I should finish reading it myself – which I did :).

  21. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. (we’re talking the very early 60s here, folks, in the UK).

    I learned to read aged maybe 2-3. My sister was a couple of years older than me. My mother prepared her for school by teaching her to read, and I just naturally joined in. Then when she started school and was practising with Mum after school, I was there as well. (This may be why, 55 years later, I don’t get on with my sister…)

    So, when I finally started school aged 6 (a year late because they were full), I’d already had 3-4 years of reading everything they wanted to teach me. Took them a few weeks to cotton on, and then I was sent to spend every reading lesson in the school library… which I had exhausted by age 8. And none of which I remember to this day. Pablum. Not even that memorable.

    Then they sent me to the local “real” library (5 minutes walk down the road) which had exciting stuff like James Blish, and Alan Nourse and Andre Norton, although I didn’t get to the Ns for nearly a year — I started at A and was working my way around (such an organised child.). 6 books per week on my own library ticket plus 6 books per week on my elder sister’s, and 6 books a week on the my next younger sister’s. And then I discovered my mother had been concealing the existence of another library equidistant from our home, which provided another 18 books a week. Makes for a lot of reading! (My mother’s failure to make me aware of this extra added opportunity may have been self-defence — there was not a lot of room in our house for 36 books a week… plus carrying them back and forth to the library was a little beyond my strength.)

    I vaguely remember a whole bunch of Meindert DeJong novels about the Netherlands and anthropomorphic novels about Brumbies in the Australian outback. but it was the SF that made an impact. So the first book I can name that I have a memory of reading was Andre Norton, Star Ranger, although logically I know that I must have read James Blish’ Cities in Flight books before that. Plus a lot of other stuff by authors with surnames beginning A-M.

  22. Definitely Dr. Seuss. Hop on Pop, probably, but I had them all and reread them often. And then my parents generously gave them all to an older cousin who wasn’t reading yet, and she defaced them by scribbling in crayon and ripping out the pages. That was my first heart break in life, and I remember how guilty I tried to make my parents about it even years later.

  23. I think mine was one of the He-Man comics that came with the figures in the early 80’s. Tough to remember something from age 3.

  24. It was a Richard Scarry book. I don’t remember which one, but I remember loving the illustrations and I read the words as well. After that it was pretty much all the popular kids books in the early 80’s. The first books I remember really loving and my early forays into what I read now were the Mouse and the Motorcycle series and the Bunnicula series

  25. I don’t remember the first young children’s book I read, although I have faint echoes of several of those small, hardbound “Little Golden” books. The first book I have real memories of reading was “The Tower Treasure,” Hardy Boys #1. Took me close to a month to plow through it in second grade. But that was it for me- I was totally hooked on reading after that and voraciously started consuming multiple books a week.

  26. A primer titled The Little Road. Don’t remember the author; hey, I was three years old at the time. But I actually do remember working my way through it.

  27. The first book a remember reading was a Walt Disney book (Mickey Mouse as the Brave Little Tailor?) when I was about three or four years old.

    The first “big” book that I read was a copy of “The Hobbit” from the school library when I was around 8 or 9. I remember that I couldn’t believe a book was so darn big.

  28. I recall Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clock Book as the first book I remember reading (I was two) – and I think the reason I remember my mother showing me on the hands the time my father would come back from work (9 in the evening) which was always past my bedtime…

  29. The first books I remember reading on my own were the “Sam I Am” series.

  30. I was reading before I started school so I’ve a mishmash of memories of books: Ladybird books, Dr Seuss (despite my mother’s disapproval!) Paddington, Mary Bear in the bearpits of Berne, MillyMollyMandy, etc. The standout for me was when I was about seven, reading ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ from start to finish in one evening while on a visit with my parents to a family friend. She didn’t believe I’d really read it till I told her the story! :) I’ve read fast ever since.

  31. “Il richiamo della foresta”, i.e. Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, in an Italian translation published by Fratelli Fabbri. I must have been around five, though I had been reading for at least a couple of years or more — but all I wanted to read up to that time was Mickey Mouse comics.

  32. I know I read stuff before this, but the first specific memory I can recall is seeing a real-life “Dick and Jane” book in first grade, and thinking,

    “What?!?! These books are REAL?!?”

    Clearly I had heard of them, and not in a positive light.

  33. I am sure it was not my very first, but the first “real” book I remember reading is The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Soon thereafter I was hooked by CS Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy.

  34. According to my late mother, I was reading from a very early age, around 2 or 3. I can’t be sure which book was actually the first I read, but the first I remember reading was called Clarence The Clean Pig. My mother claimed I wore out the public library’s copy of that book because I took it out so often.

    I remember encountering Dr. Seuss for the first time in grade school. I haunted the elementary school library until I worked my way through everything they had by the good doctor. Not sure why my folks didn’t guide me to those books before I started school, but maybe they hadn’t heard of him (this was back in the 1950s, after all).

  35. It was a Richard Scarey book, though I don’t remember which. I was four years old. My mother didn’t believe that I was reading it, and was sure I had memorized it. When I insisted, she pulled an unread library book off the shelf and handed it to me. Reportedly, she almost fell over when I started reading it out loud to her. :-)

  36. We had a big book of kid’s stories–some nursery rhymes, some fairy tales. I remember the illustrations, and feeling very grownup with this gigantic book. My family figured out that I wasn’t just repeating back to them when I said I liked the story about the Assup Fabble with the fox trying to reach the grapes. They had read me the story, but not the big words up top that said “Aesop’s Fables”. Just the start of a long life of mispronouncing words I’ve only ever read. :)

  37. @hpets Big dog little dog isn’t Dr. Seuss– it’s PD Eastman! Same publisher with the little I can read it all by myself cat in the hat in the corner though. He’s got other great classics too, like Go Dog Go.

  38. I don’t remember the first book I could read by myself, but I do remember reading a help page in a Debian console when I was three or four. Gotta start the system administrators young, I guess.

  39. my parents tell me that the first one i read was called “johnny go round” and i can actually remember the first line of it, so i believe them. but the first one i remember with my own memory is “ten apples up on top,” confirming your dr. seuss theory.

  40. I think it was the Lucky Starr series, by Isaac Asimov, the italian translation published in 1978. I still own it: a Christmas gift from my father, three volumes with a gorgeous graphic (and a shitty binding that didn’t survive the dozen times I read it).

  41. First book I read myself was Jonathan and the Dragon age about 4 and half. I have a vague memory of the art work but not anything about the story. First science fiction was Tom Swift and the Race to the Moon age 7.

  42. Oof. Like so many other Dr. Suess’ and P.D. Eastman’s works must have been the earliest books. I read them for years after they were supplanted by more challenging books.

    Other early fiction would have been the Hardy Boys series, and the Boxcar Children books. I spent a ton of my allowance on Hardy Boys books.

    The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came along early on.

    One book that had a huge impact was My Side Of The Mountain. That was a cool book that I received as a gift.

    I think Anne McCaffery is the author that got me into SFF as well. After that, I was a regular with the Science Fiction Book club for years and years and….

  43. I didn’t learn to read until first grade, but picked it up quite quickly. My first books were Seuss, “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Cat in the Hat”, but by 2nd grade I was reading “Swiss Family Robinson”.

  44. Rattle Rattle Dump Truck.

    When I was two and a half, I tried to teach my six-month-old brother to read. I did this on a family car trip from California to Wisconsin, by reading all the signs we passed out loud to him, and berating him for not learning to read by following my shining example. My parents were not particularly amused, and tried to convince me that one of the differences between boys and girls is that boys can’t learn to read until they are four years old. So then I proceeded to entertain the poor illiterate boy . . . by reading each and every sign we passed out loud to him.

  45. Geez, that’s a toughie! I was already reading at a second- or third-grade level by the time I was in kindergarten, because my parents were big on literacy – bigger than my teachers were, apparently! My first grade teacher kicked up a dust over how she couldn’t “teach me to read right” – so my parents didn’t teach my youngest brother to read, and he grew up dyslexic! (No, I’m not suggesting causality. I am suggesting that if they’d taught him to read at home before he went to school, they’d have either caught his dyslexia years earlier than the system did – or he’d have learned to read his own dyslexic way, and might not have grown up to be an ignorant Limbaugh-listening Dittohead….)

    My parents read to me for as long as I can remember, and asked me to read along, so I was reading the funny pages by the time I was three, I think. I remember reading Dick and Jane in school, and finding it boring (hence the teacher pitching a fit) – I’m pretty sure I read some children’s book fairy tale like Cinderella or Red Riding Hood when I was three or four.

    The first book I can specifically remember reading all the way, cover to cover, and enjoying all by myself was The Boys’ Sherlock Holmes, edited by Chris Steinbrunner – and I’d been reading pretty steadily for about four-five years by then. I’m sure I had already read The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Jr. and other mystery-adventures of teenage boys getting in danger, because I remember having those books from about when I was eight or nine – and they probably warped my mind in the most interesting ways, since the heroes were always getting tied up and tortured/threatened with death by the bad guys!

  46. “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is the only children’s book that I can really recall. It was a pleasure to be able to read it to my little girl.

  47. The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman. Then I read it to my kids when they were little. They’re 10 and 12 now so I’m going to ask them what book they remember first reading on their own.

  48. I know I read books before this, but the first book I vividly remember reading is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe because it set my soul on fire. I remember thinking, a ha, this is what it’s all about, this is what matters, this is what is good and worthy.

  49. Mom used to get free books for kids whenever she spent a certain amount at the grocery store. When she brought home a Power Boys mystery (Hardy Boys ripoff in the early 60’s), I was hooked. I eventually read the entire series (I think there were 6 books) and got seriously hooked on adventure novels….which led me to science fiction…..Thanks, Mom!

  50. Le tigri di Mompracem. I’m told I was reading other stuff before it, but this is the first memory I have of an actual book (which I still have).

  51. I have a terrible memory for childhood events, so these aren’t the first books I read; they’re the earliest I remember reading.

    One was The Happy Hollisters; another was The Forgotten Door (a Scholastic title). I still like the latter.

  52. My memory is pretty fuzzy, but the first book I remember reading to my parents rather than them reading it to me was a Dick and Jane book.

  53. Put me in the Zoo, Robert Lopshire, from Seuss’s beginner books series. I made my Mom read it to me so often that I memorized it, and freaked her out completely when I sat down and “read” it to her, aged 3. After the initial shock of thinking she had a prodigy on her hands, she pointed to various words and asked me to read them. Of course I couldn’t, so she capitalized on the opportunity to teach me that the words I’d memorized bore a relationship to the squiggly marks on the page, and a lifetime reader was born. Thanks, Mom.

  54. Robert Lawson’s “Simpson and Sampson.” I was two, maybe pushing three. It’s a charming book, with lovely pen-and-ink drawings of people in 16th c. German fashion.

  55. It was Make Way For Ducklings. Amazingly, that book is still in print and in book stores to this day. I also read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel very early on.

  56. Jellybeans for Breakfast by Miriam Young was a hot ticket item at my school library when I was in kindergarten. There was a long waiting list and the minute you got off the list, you got right back on.

    I didn’t get glasses until I was in Kindergarten and my mother says that while I loved to be read to and many books memorized, I didn’t really look at the pictures or watch TV until I got them.

  57. OMG, “Desert Dog” by Jim Kjelgaared. I don’t recall the exact year, 3rd or 4th grade. It’s a story about a dog whose master is killed (or something) and he is abandoned in the desert. He survives on his own for a while and then meets up with a dog pack. Eventually becoming the pack leader. I must have read that book ~a dozen times in a year. I couldn’t get enough. I’ve always had a soft spot for dog books. (Perhaps why I liked “Fuzzy Nation” and “Agent to the Stars”, by our illustrious host.) “Hey Scalzi, write more dog books”! (please)

  58. Dr. Seuss’s ABC.

    My understanding is that my father had had some negative experiences with having learned to read before he started school, so my parents didn’t go out of the way to teach me to read (as opposed to reading to me); as a result, I ended up teaching myself, and ABC was the first book on that programme (with Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat soon after). This would have been at about 4 years old.

    I had memorized other books earlier, but couldn’t read them; it was complicated by the fact that from 2-3 we were living in Germany and what I was memorizing was books like Max und Moritz (of which I’ve now forgotten most of what I once remembered).

  59. The earliest I remember is when I was 4 reading “My Fathers Dragon” to my 2 year old sister. Obviously I was reading Seuss and others earlier, but this is the earliest I had a clear memory of reading.

  60. I honestly have no idea. Supposedly I started reading at two as well. I have no memories of reading picture books even though I am familiar with many of them. I remember my oldest child reading Green Eggs and Ham to me and blowing my socks off. But I really don’t remember not reading ever. And I definitely do not remember most of the books I have read. Your question made me sad :( I feel like I should totally remember this but I don’t.

  61. I don’t remember the title, but it was a children’s picture book about some kids going to see the circus. My mother says I came home from the first day of kindergarten at age 4, sat down, and read the book. She concluded that I’d already been able to read, but thought I was supposed to go to school to learn it. Being an obedient child, I went to school, and then launched on properly sanctioned reading adventures.

    After that it’s kind of a jumble; I’m sure I read a lot but there aren’t individual standouts in my memory until I was loaned “The Hobbit” and stumbled across Andre Norton (“The Time Traders”) at age 9.

  62. The Monster at the End of the Book! I have fond memories of reading that over and over.

    Also around that same time were The Littlest Angel, a Clifford the Big Red Dog book, and one of the Dr Seuss books, all kept in a basket at my grandparents for when we’d visit there. And a I remember a book about a cow that I used to take out of the library over and over again, but I’ll be darned if I can remember the name or anything.

  63. One of The Gingerbread Man, The Three Billy-Goats Gruff, Too Much Noise!, or Curious George Goes To The Hospital. The mid-60’s versions of them, which for a couple of them nowadays would cause many a child psychologist’s head to explode. Hard to be sure, really, which was the first: memories that far back are hard to sort into a reality that actually happened, sometimes. The first real SF book I read/owned was The Runaway Robot, but sadly after the most recent move my treasured childhood copy seems to have slipped into one of those cracks that appear in the universe and swallow stuff when you aren’t looking.

  64. One of the Dick and Jane primers. “See Dick. See Dick run. Run, Dick, run!” Also, The Cat in the Hat. Devoured Nancy Drew mystery novels for my first reading of entire novels. Fell in love with reading after our Librarian read to us Mary Norton’s The Borrowers and J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit in Library class about fifth grade. Been reading for pleasure heavily ever since. Favorite of all time remains The Lord of the Rings since my junior year in high school (I have read it 14 times through, so far).

  65. We always read the cardboard edged (Golden something) and Seuss books with mom and dad, mostly because dad did the voices and mom made faces trying to not giggle at the voices. So probably it would be “Little House on the Prairie” in kindergarten or first grade. I’m told I read Huckleberry Finn as a very young child, and I don’t disbelieve it, but I don’t have the visual memories of being tiny and reading in my room on my own and losing an afternoon like I do with the Wilder book.

  66. I know it was one of the Serendipity books, and I think it was Squeakers, sort of a morality tale about a squirrel who learned about boundaries and saying no after being asked for some fur from her tail. I think I owned every one of that series, though, so I’m not completely sure if it was that one or one of the others.

    I adored Dr. Seuss as a child, but I rarely read them to myself. Torturing my father by making him read them aloud was much more fun.

  67. “The Monster at the End of this Book” – the Sesame Street one with Grover. I remember reading it out loud to myself; my heart beat faster with each page flip! When I first read it to my own son decades later, my heart raced again. Great stuff.

  68. The Golden Book “Donald Duck In Disneyland.” At first, my parents thought I had memorized it, they had read it to me so many times. Then they discovered I actually knew the individual words.

  69. It was a Lassie picture book about a forest fire; I remember it because I gave a book review to my grade 2 class.

    I remember my dad reading Treasure Island to me in grade 1 a lot better, though. And my grade 3 teacher, Mrs. Helm(?) reading us The Silver Sword (she gave me that book, and I am still infuriated that I cannot now find it). The Hobbit was our grade 5 novel, at which point I inhaled the Lord of the Rings.

    I am nodding at about half the books everyone has mentioned, and for the rest I am scribbling notes for books to get for my son.

  70. “Five Little Kittens”.

    Mrs Tibbets going shopping,
    wasn’t pleased enough to purr…

    Wore out at least two copies of that book.
    Yes, I’m English.
    Yes, I’m old.

  71. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, I had to write a book report about it. I read books earlier, but this is the first novel I remember reading cover to cover.

  72. _The Wump World_, by Bill Peet. As far as novels go, it was probably _The Hundred and One Dalmatians_. Cruella de Vil freaked me out.

  73. The very first book i can remember reading all the way through was a book about bears. Not anthropomorphic talking bears or anything like that, but a nature book about bears. It was about a black bear mother and her cub, and just every day life throughout the year for bears. Very factual, and with that old rich colour photography. I’m certain it was an older book too, possibly from as far back as the 1950s or 60s.

  74. E. B. White’s “Stuart Little”. Can’t remember how young I was exactly, but it had to have been between 5 and 10 years old. Might have been even younger, I just don’t remember. But I DO have fond memories of the book…..

  75. A depressing side note: I asked this same question of several co-workers at lunch today. All were disdainful of the question’s very premise and many proudly stated they had never read an entire book in their lives…not even in school. I have one female co-worker who honestly considers the reading of books “unmanly” and rather “wimpy”.

    The experience reminded why I eat alone at my desk most days, usually reading a good book!!

  76. Like you, I learned to read long before my memory begins, but somewhere in the house we have a cassette recording (or more likely a rotted cassette recording) of me and my sister reading “Donald Duck’s Toy Sailboat.” iirc, it featured Chip n Dale in it.

  77. Toughy here. It was either the Tawny Scrawny Lion who became a vegetarian when the rabbits took pity on him and invited him to dinner or something from The Better Homes and Gardens Story Book where they substituted pictures of the little red hen and other characters for the words, or the poem about the Goops with their bad manners, or the politically incorrect Little Black Sambo etc. I got in trouble in kindergarden when I was four for writing my name on a picture I drew and was put in the slow readers group in first grade when I was six (I remember Dick and Jane and Spot). Never read any Dr. Seuss (too radical for my family). After I got over my boycott of books when they were no longer illustrated, I began reading out the entire SF section of my local branch library and haven’t stopped since, although my tastes have broadened significantly.

  78. The first book I remember reading to myself was Green Eggs and Ham, but I suspect I was reciting it from memory rather than actually reading the words. And thanks to Christopher Browne @2:24 for reminding me of the Mushroom Planet. For many years some “mushroom” book would vaguely enter my brain but I never managed to figure exactly what it was and was starting to think it had been a dream. Thanks to your prompt, I just reserved it at the library!

  79. An ABC book at three; I probably remember it more because my mom told the story of when she was reading it and i turned back to the second page and pointed out the kitchen window to say burr; and there was a robin sitting just outside.

  80. The Star Wars Storybook. This one:

    This was actually when I learned to read. I’d known my letters for quite some time but for some reason, sounding stuff out hadn’t clicked. Someone had explained it to me earlier in the day and I’d read something in my classroom at school; I came home, was curious if I could use this technique to read one of MY books, and to my astonishment, I could.

    I pronounced “OK” as “ock,” but other than that, I pretty much had it down.

  81. Either The Poky Little Puppy or The Little Engine That Could. I loved both these books to death when I was little.

  82. Toss up between Green Eggs & Ham and Mortimer’s Snowsuit. I remember reading lots of books by Munch and Seuss. That lead into Watership Down and the Hobbit…. parents said I started reading super early for my age at the time :)

  83. Little Golden books, many of them (pre-school) and Disney had a big book of the stories they had made into movies (loved that one!)

  84. Can’t remember the very early ones but the first I do is from the age of eight. The book was Men, Martians and Machines by Eric Frank Russell. Read it many times since and still get a thrill from it. That book was my introduction to Science Fiction

  85. Like our host, I don’t remember a time that I couldn’t read. I certainly learned well before entering school.

    The first book I have clear memories of is probably The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I know I was reading Seuss around the same time as well, but none of them stuck in my head as much.

  86. Seuss’ Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? is the first one I can remember reading, although that memory is of me reading to a classmate in kindergarden, and I had been reading for two years at that point according to my folks.

  87. Ann Likes Red. I learned to read on this book. I had people read it to me over and over until I recognized the words on the page and could read it myself.

    Fifty years later, it’s still in print. Pretty cool.

  88. I remember books that I must have read with my parents, but I don’t remember reading picture books on my own. I did have the complete alphabet down by kindergarten, which was unusual at that time. Pre-kindergarten alphabet and numbers were not emphasized back then. I do remember my first “real” books (in my young mind real books had mostly words and few pictures). My first books were biographies in the fall of second grade – one was on Kareem Abdul Jabbar, another was on Amelia Earhart. Biographies were essentially my first genre. I distinctly remember searching them out in the school library.

  89. The Star Wars Storybook. This one:

    Ah, the StarWars story book. It contained a photo of the deleted scene of Luke’s conversation with Biggs Darklighter, causing me to believe, for a time, that there was a version out there that contained the scene.

    I remember being somewhat flummoxed by the Star Wars comics. I could read the words, but there were so many coined words, words I didn’t know, and mythological references, that I had to badger my parents for help.

    This line had me asking Mom:
    “You…only know…half “the Force”…Vader…! You perceive its full power…as little as a spoon…perceives the taste of food!”
    ―Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I didn’t know what “perceived” means, and learning it’s meaning in the context of that metaphor was probably not the best possible way.

  90. The Stars: A New Way To See Them by H.A. Rey. I remember being unimpressed by his other, more commercially viable work (the one with the monkey) because there were no planets.

  91. Magic Michael by Louis Slobodkin. Chosen because it had my name. Although I think Danny the Dinosaur was probably a close second.

  92. George and Martha!

    I don’t remember which of the books it was. I have the anthology now, and it played a major role in both of my daughters’ developing literacy. I’m still partial to books about hippos.

  93. The first book I remember was Waldo The Jumping Dragon. I don’t remember much from my childhood so I couldn’t tell if I read it cover to cover solo or not. The first book I remember choosing and then reading was A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony.

  94. we had an illustrated book of Aesop’s fables i was 5? it had words but you could make out the lessons from the pictures.

  95. Another Dr Seuss for me – “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet”. Or perhaps it was “Obstreperous” – a story about a kite. I was another that started reading around age two, so I really don’t remember all the books I’ve read over the years. But those two stand out around pre-school age, so I think they were probably high up the list.

  96. Definitely a Dr. Seuss of one kind or another. However, I have stronger memories of the first book I checked out of a school library when I was a second-grader.

    The book was called “Zip-Zip and His Flying Saucer”, and I loved it, and it was the first time I realized that reading could really be fun. I even remember a line of dialogue from the book: “That’s the best idea you had since slicing bananas with the electric fan!”.

  97. Either And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry St or The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins, both by Dr Suess and both quite new way back then. I was about 4.

  98. Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein. I was 8 and while it may not have been the first book that I read, it is the one that I remember. The copy belonged to a much older cousin and I also remember asking him to explain some of the concepts and him telling me just to read and figure it out from the context. I was immediately hooked by the author and the genre.

  99. Mr. Brown Can Moo. Apparently I taught myself to read when I was about 4 when I realized my mother wouldn’t be reading to me 24/7

  100. According to my parents I taught myself to read by the time I was three. The most likely candidate for my first book was something by Richard Scary featuring Pig Will and Pig Won’t.

  101. Dr. Seuss of course though I rampaged through Carolyn Haywood’s Betsy & Billy series almost as soon as I learned to read without pictures (8 yrs old?). Loved Nancy Drew though couldn’t abide the Hardy Boys. Go figure.

  102. So wonderful to see so many books I read as a child listed here. Harold and the Purple Crayon still is magical to me, I remember having that red to me in kindergarten. I don’t remember when I first started reading nor even the first book ever read but I do remember the Dick and Jane primers. I remember The Happy Hollisters, The Bobbsey Twins, Dr. Doolittle, Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Wizard of Oz, Charlottes Web…on and on and on. I have no memory of my parents reading to me but my dad was an avid story teller.

  103. The Littles. I forget which Littles book it was. My mom read to me every morning before preschool. One morning when I was 3, she was running late, so I pulled out the book to read it. And I did. My mom thought that was cute, so I read it to her. When we got to school, the preschool teacher didn’t believe it. When I read it, she thought I must have memorized it. She picked out a book for me, which I read. I remember her getting really mad about that. I guess I wasn’t supposed to be reading?

  104. How are so many people good at remembering which book they first read? That was about 20 or so years ago. The time makes it difficult to remember. I suspect that it might actually be a Bill Peet book though. I do have an abounding fondness for “Tell Me Some More…” by Crosby Bonsall, so I want to say that that’s the first book I read on my own.

  105. Robert the Rose Horse. I’m in my 30’s and Mom, Dad, and I still have large chunks memorized.

  106. No idea. I can’t remember not reading to myself. Lot of the titles above, which given our shared demographics probably isn’t surprising, but I can’t remember “my first book.” I did read both the Dick and Jane and Mark and Janet readers in school, however, which certainly dates me.

  107. How Fletcher was Hatched. By Wende Devlin 1969 so I would have been 4. This is the first one I remember, Probably others. I think the first not picture book was Bezus and Ramona and subsequent Beverly Clearly books. Graduated to Hardy Boys soon after. I still have an entire set from early 1970’s.

  108. I too, started reading so early that I cannot remember not reading. The first book I read all the way through on my own had to be a Dr, Seuss, because we had no Dr. Seuss books in the house. My mom read to us every night up until my younger brother started school, so I really didn’t get the chance to read a book by myself. Mom’s books were too precious for us kids to touch. Then I got to the library. I know there was some Dr. Seuss in there, in the beginning reader section. But my experience there lasted less than an hour. And then, a wonderful librarian noticed that I was bored, and and got me a library for the ‘big kids’ section. I started reading at the beginning of the fiction section, and started working my way through a bunch of books that clearly did not stick with me.

    I didn’t make it through the ‘A’s unscathed. I got to Asimov, and read the first book that I still remember all these years later. It was David Starr, Space Ranger, and it changed my life! It was then and there, some time in first grade, that I became a science fiction fan

  109. I am hurting my brain trying to think of which book it was — I just don’t know. I remember finishing the book and the surprise and pride that came from realizing I’d read the entire thing by myself with no one around to help me.

  110. I suspect it was probably one of the Richard Scarry books, when Lowly was still called Ooch Worm. I was reading pretty fluently by age 3, and very catholic in my tastes. I made my dad do a doubletake once when I was reading a Readers’ Digest article around age 6 and asked him what an ‘S.O.B.’ was.

  111. I don’t remember. I was 2.

    There is, however, a Family Legend of how my reading ability was discovered: I commented upon the back page content (probably an ad) of the newspaper section my dad was reading. I was looked at in what nowadays we would say was a WTF? fashion until I got up off the den floor and pointed at the item. Then, of course, I was challenged to read something else, without pictures.

    My visiting aunt, a genteel Southern lady, exclaimed, “Lord-a-mercy, the child can read!” and fanned herself vigorously. I am not making that part up; she was exactly that.

  112. I don’t remember learning to read either, and I have no idea what the first book I read was, but I remember I was sitting up in bed reading Mary Poppins when my father came in to tell me my younger sister had been born. I was 3 1/2.

  113. I have no idea how old I was, but the book featured Freddy The Pig.

    By the time I was ten I was an omnivorous reader, had exhausted the Childrens’ section of the local (small) library, and the Librarian (may her memory be blessed) gave me card to the Adult section.
    When I was about 13 we moved from Toledo, OH, to Glendale, CA, and I was astonished to discover how difficult it was to get an Adult library card — I had to explain to the Librarian the complexities of the names & relationships in … I think it was The Brothers Karamazov.. before he would grant it. (Fortunately, he retired before I starting working there as a Page during summer vacations.)

  114. “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes. Having moved often while a child, I was functionally illiterate. (I covered it up by memorizing the stories.) My mother enrolled me in a summer program of phonics. Wow. I remember picking this book from a library on Guam, M.I., and reading it myself. (I’ve read a couple thousand books since.) Thank you, Mother.

  115. A Dustbin of Milligan by Spike Milligan. OK, I confess I didn’t read it cover to cover, but it is the first book I remember reading by myself. The poems particularly stick in my head: ‘There are holes in the sky where the rain gets in, but they’re ever so small, that’s why the rain is thin.’

  116. The first book I can remember reading was Ann Can Fly by Fred Phleger. When my first child was born, I hunted up a used copy of it to read to him and I’ve read it to all of my kids, except my oldest daughter who read it to me at 18 mos.

  117. It was “Enemies of the Secret Hideout” by it turns out John Peterson. Great stuff and re-read many times when not watching Fireball XL-5 and Johnny Quest.

  118. Either Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey or the Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
    Both feature prominently in my memory and I don’t have my mom around anymore to confirm which one I read first.

  119. I also don’t remember not being able to read. I’m pretty sure I read The Cat In The Hat before One Fish Two Fish. But there was a book about looking for a bear in the dark that I think I read before either of those.

  120. A board book in the shape of a lion’s head. No idea what the title or author was. The first SF I can remember reading was the Mushroom Planet books, probably in about 2nd or 3rd grade. I’m pretty sure I’d read those before I made the diorama of a scene from Heinlein’s Red Planet in third grade, anyway.

    Unlike almost everyone here, I actually learned to read in kindergarten. Early in kindergarten, but that’s when it clicked, suddenly made sense, and was EASY. I essentially took off reading at a dead run, and have never stopped.

  121. I believe the first book I read aloud on my own was ‘Corduroy The Bear,’ about a teddy bear in a toy store who is missing a button on his overalls and goes in search of one in the mall late at night. However, I could’ve cheated, because that book came with a Corduroy stuffed bear and the book on cassette, and it’s possible I just memorized the book on tape. I tended to do that. I think I was three? Early pre-school.

    Around the same time though I discovered ‘Amelia Bedelia.’ I read those on my own, frequently and joyously and probably incredibly annoyingly to my parents. PUNS. Plays on words! I remember being three or four and thinking those were hysterical, in part because Amelia Bedelia is ostensibly a grown woman and I was cleverer than her. It is the same joke over and over again, for several books.

  122. “Green Eggs and Ham”. My father would give us $1 if we could read it through without error on the first day of the first grade. So, I sat with my brother as he worked on reading the book over and over until he had it perfectly. By the end of the day, I was reading and was sad that I now had to wait a year before I could earn my dollar. :)

  123. The first one that came to my mind was “The Adventures of Heidi” (Not sure if that was the exact title, but it was the Heidi story. Then I read your post further and saw what you put, then I remembered, I am pretty sure it was “Green Eggs and Ham.” Heidi was my first chapter book in in first grade…or it may have been Pippi Longstocking. I think I read Green Eggs and Ham in Kindergarten, or just before Kindergarten.

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