I JUST GOOGLED LARRY AND THE UNDERSEA RAIDER by Walter Farley, a book that one of my teachers read to her two classes. It probably didn’t have great literary value, but I’ve remembered that story—if not the setting. (I thought it was Norway. Turns out to be Hawaii, just prior to Pearl Harbor.)
Books have influenced my life dramatically (pun intended), and I’d like to introduce you to some of the authors who have helped people my imagination. Eugene Peterson says, “Imagination is that capacity within us to gather, arrange, and connect all the data of existence into something whole and right.” Sounds good to me.
The power books of my childhood include:
Johnny Tremain by Forbes (introduced me to the dramatic period preceding the Revolutionary War)
The Yearling by Rawlings (taught me the pain of real life)
Silas Marner by George Eliot (got me hooked on Classics)
I cut my reading teeth on The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, horse and cowboy stories and the like, but these heavier tales popped up as lighthouses to guide me into deeper waters.
What did I learn spiritually in those days? Around Confirmation time, my pastor gave me a small book called Five Minutes a Day by Robert E. Speer. That little book has continued to nurture me to this very day. The format is simple: one or more scriptures, a poetry segment, and an elegant prayer. The poets he drew from are the Heavy Duty/Extra Strength variety: George Herbert, Robert Browning, Francis Thompson, Christina Rosetti.
Here’s a squib by Tennyson (somewhat altered) that shows that a tale (Story) is a far more effective way of communicating Truth than even eloquent speech. Migrant workers, carpenters, grave diggers, storm-battered sailors—anyone can find Truth in Story.
Truth in spoken words shall fail,
But truth embodied in a tale
Shall enter in at lowly doors.
Which they may read who bind the sheaf
Or build the house, or dig the grave,
Or those wild eyes that watch the wave
In roarings round the coral reef.
That’s my goal as a writer: to speak Truth through Story in a way that reaches the heart of readers, whatever their station in life.
What childhood books are vivid in your memory?
Next time I’ll get into later years. What might nursing a baby have to do with books?
firstname.lastname@example.org Would love to hear about your stories.