Today I read Where the Wild Things Are to juniordwarf for the first time. I’d got the book ages ago and put it away for him until I was ready to give it to him.
Of course, I forgot about it. I was reminded of it when I saw it in the wonderful book 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (General Editor, Julia Eccleshare), which is one of juniordwarf’s favourite books at the moment – he loves flicking through it and pointing out the books he recognises.
Where the Wild Things Are was written by Maurice Sendak, published in 1963 and won the Caldecott Medal (awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children) in 1964. It’s widely recognised as a classic children’s book, and was made into a movie in 2009.
Now this is the point where I say what wonderful memories I have of reading and loving this book as a child, and recount how I used to read it sitting on my grandfather’s lap, or with the dog curled up at my feet, or under the covers with a torch when I was supposed to be asleep.
Only I don’t have any memories of reading it at all. I’m certain I did read it. I’m familiar with the story and the artwork, but I just can’t remember reading it.
In fact the only memory I have of the book is from Primary School when we all dressed up as monsters – maybe for a Book Week activity. Somewhere in a shoebox under my bed is a polaroid of me and a couple of other kids dressed up in out costumes. Mine was an old brown blanket type thing that my mother had sewed into a monster costume that covered me from head to toe. It was a fine effort (and I hope I never get called upon to create something similar for juniordwarf when he starts school).
It’s much the same as my memory of other classic kids books – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Rosie’s Walk, Madeline, the list goes on (and on and on). I know I read them as a child. I remember them. As soon as I open them it’s like reconnecting with an old friend. But I don’t remember the actual physical act of reading these fabulous books.
Now I have juniordwarf, I have an opportunity to discover all of these books again and to share them with him. I can create new memories of reading, sharing, exploring and enjoying these books – and lots more that weren’t around when I was a kid (Walter the Farting Dog springs to mind). And now I’m older, they’re memories that will stay with me.