When we are children, one of the most wonderful parts, if you are lucky, is having your guardians take some time and read to you. What I find interesting though, while you forget most aspects of your childhood save for some cool moments, is that people always remember their favorite bedtime stories and children’s books. There are many reasons for this, but I am curious if it is the books themselves or the memories that adults attach to the nostalgic book that help children remember.
Upon asking a few peers, everyone was so quick to respond with their stories and favorite children’s books. It was great to see that while they had such diverse backgrounds, they all agreed that the reason they remembered and liked the books was because of the memory attached.
Taylor D, age 23, said she remembers sitting on a plastic covered couch with her great grandfather while he read to her. She recalls fighting over who would sit next to him with her many cousins, but being the oldest would always win. She also stated that her dad would have an entire book memorized and would tell the story at their dinner table; this book was titled “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff.
Another young lady named Taylor C, also 23, remembers having a giant book of stories kept in a cabinet under the TV. Her and her sister would get a book out and either read it together themselves or ask their mom or grandmother to read it to them. Taylor still talks to her sister about these memories that they have shared together. Her favorite books included: “Madeline” by John Bemelmans Marciano and Ludwig Bemelmans, and “Go, Dog, Go” by P.D Eastman.
Other books that were popular in this age range were the “Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister, “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown, “The Berenstain Bears” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and of course anything written by Dr. Suess.
While these memories are fresh in the heads of 20-somethings, I wanted to see if this information was as readily available by older generations. I found that age does not matter at all; everyone seems to have a favorite book or story. In the generation of 30 to 60-year-olds the favorites still included Dr. Suess, specifically “The Cat in the Hat.” There were a few out of the ordinary though: “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle was the immediate answer from a 55 year old man. Though, not a bedtime story, it was still a book that left enough of an impression to be remembered decades later. The memory of being read to was not what left the impression on this man, but the ability to read alone and personally interpret the message of the story itself was. A woman, originally from England, claims her favorite book was “Five Children and It” by Edith Nesbit.
Even further from the millennial age group, I asked the same question to those 60 years old and above. An 86-year-old man had no hesitation in stating that his favorite book was “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, and his wife responded quickly with “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.
Everyone has favorite stories, but it is very interesting that when younger people are asked, their favorite books include stories and smaller books while the older generations preferred more of the young adult chapter books. While adults don’t always have time to read, books always make an impression, and reading will never go out of style.