I was fortunate to grow up reading. Our house didn't have the books-in-every-room decor that my husband suffers, but we owned books and my mother read to me. She introduced me to the library when I was a small child and it and the book mobile became two of my favorite places. I wasn't a particularly popular child, so I spent a lot of time alone, most of it with my face buried in a book. I was reading early enough that there was a run-in with my first grade teacher when she insisted--in front of the class--that I could not possibly have read Charlotte's Web the previous summer. But I had. And quite a few more, too.
I devoured the Little House books for the first time that year, among others. Over the next few years I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, the already-yellowing volumes of The Bobbsey Twins series that had been my mother's, and my grandmother's contribution, Jean Stratton Porter's Limberlost. I met Katie John, Luvvy and the Girls,Trixie,Pollyanna, Rebecca, the Peppers, and the Melendys. I worked my way through the Nancy Drew mysteries that had belonged to my mom and her sisters, and then moved on to Agatha Christie. After I exhausted Dame Agatha I discovered Dorothy Sayers. About this same time--when I was about 12--I found Taylor Caldwell, Anya Seton, and Victoria Holt. I quickly ran through their writings.
In the school library I found less salutary companions. Judy Blume, Paul Zindel, Go Ask Alice and more gems were the contributions of the library of my Illinois middle school, where I spent a great deal of time during my two study halls every day. Fortunately, they didn't keep me from finding better literature at the public library and, occasionally at the bookstore. And, to encourage the moms whose daughters are currently devouring garbage, they didn't do permanent damage.
I still go back to my childhood favorites from time to time. I just re-read the Little House books for at least the 25th time. A Little Princess is revisited every couple of years. It hasn't been all that long since I spent time with Luvvy and the Melendys. Anya Seton's Katharine is an almost annual read, as is the big hit of my senior year, ...And Ladies of the Club. I introduced all of these friends to my daughter, and we share a satisfying love of many of them. In return, she gave me Anne of Green Gables and all things Austen.
Fine companions, indeed.