You may have heard of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before“, well this is “To All the Books I’ve Loved Before.” I know you have them, too.
These books are my most prized childhood memories. Everyone needed a Mr. Falker at one point, or felt like Chrysanthemum, where you needed a friend like Frog and Toad, and there was definitely a time when no one could break the confidence you had with your purple, plastic purse.
There are 5 books in total.
“Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes
We all remember the first time we got in trouble by our favorite teacher. We may not want to remember it, but we definitely remember it. In “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” Kevin Henkes taught me not to take it that personal. No only that, but to keep in mind that our teachers did care about us and only did what they did because they wanted what was best for us (much like our parents…). We’ve all been in Lilly’s position, and if not physically acted, then definitely mentally reacted the way she did to her teacher. But we learned from these experiences and learned to grow from the feedback, instead of becoming offended, or upset.
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff
Laura Numeroff showed me that before I do anything, I should think the process through. She showed me this through “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. A simple routine of “If I do this, this will happen, then this, then this…” I guess you could say Numeroff really influenced my future career, because now thinking of every outcome is what I do on the daily.
The process that the mouse goes through after getting his cookie gave hope to my own mother that I’d do the same (including cleaning the house)… but it never did.
“Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco”
This book made me cry harder than most people could, I mean maybe it was just my emotions getting the best of me, but still. The way you made Trisha feel as though she could do anything, could achieve anything, including being able to learn to read. I definitely felt my share of feeling like the dumb one in school, like I can’t do it. Mr. Falker, you taught me that asking for help, and taking the help, is not something to be ashamed of. You taught me that it’s okay to fail, but with the right help, and practice, I can succeed.
“Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes
Growing up with a common name, I was always so fascinated and envious of those with more unique names. Oddly enough, I feel as though I related to Chrysanthemum more so because my name is so common. I used to think my name was beautiful, that it was fitting, unique. As time went on and I began school, I’d notice I wasn’t the only one. Seldom did I have a class without someone else named Jessica, or some form of it. I began to hate my own name, and would even dream of changing it. At one point, I even asked my parents to begin calling me by another name because of how much I disliked it. Through his book, “Chrysanthemum,” Kevin Henkes taught me to love my name, regardless of it’s unique-ness, or anything, because it’s the name my parents (just like Chrysanthemum’s) thought was beautiful and fitting for me.
“Frog and Toad Together” by Arnold Lobel
One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was that it’s three separate stories in one book, with something new to learn! But also, I find parts of how I am in each story.
The first story, “A List” is probably what encouraged my love for organization and lists, but then showed me I shouldn’t necessarily rely on it all the time. Reading this as a child, I thought it was a funny, over exaggerated joke, but now when I read it, I feel like they’re talking about me. I will be the first to admit, I am definitely Toad. I love my lists, reminders, and everything that keeps me organized and yes, I will low-key freak out if something goes missing, just like Toad did when his list flew away. I felt that on a spiritual level, honestly. Yet through this, I learned that I shouldn’t always rely on my lists, and I shouldn’t be afraid to go off schedule sometimes.
The next one is “The Garden,” and let me tell you, I am still Toad. Without a doubt, Toad being impatient waiting for his garden to grow, IS ME. Enough said.
“Cookies” taught me the concept of “will power” and by that I’m so grateful. I must say though, definitely still working on it. They tried every means not to eat the rest of the cookies, yet always found a loophole of getting to them, until finally, they got rid of all the temptation all together. That’s a method I try when it comes to studying!
Then came “Dragons and Giants,” I remember reading this as a kid, being so afraid and nervous for Frog and Toad. It made me feel grateful to have the friends I did because I wouldn’t have been able to face the “avalanches” I did without them.
“The Dream” made me cry. Surely, Arnold Lobel outdid himself with that final short story. I don’t want to give any spoilers on that last one, so all I’ll say is this:
If you don’t have a friend like Frog is to Toad, you need to get one.
These were the first books I ever really liked, everyone else, all the other books, were born out of fantasies. They taught me how to grow and made way for me to learn more. They were my first loves.
– Line altered from the movie “To All The Boys I’ve Loved” (2018)
Maybe you want to relive all the books you loved! The UW Bothell / Cascadia Campus Library has a Children’s Recreational Reading section located on the first floor across from the restrooms (see figure). You’re welcome to browse online to see if they carry one of your first loves as well.