Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Voracious Reader

by Mindy Friddle

I was an Army brat. We moved from South Carolina to Bremerhaven, Germany when I was nine.  Then something happened that had an impact on my life -- a big old crater-sized impact.

Our television didn't work.  
Me, at nine, before my voracious tear.
Actually, all the televisons on the American base didn't work-- there was some weird technical reason. You had to connect a big buzzing transformer to use your blow dryer, for Pete's sake, and the base wasn't big enough to have its own television station.

There  was a library on base, a tiny place crammed with books. And that winter, I read just about every book in the kid's section. Hattie, Heidi, The Hobbit, all the Nancy Drews; I plowed through Little Women and Johnny Tremain and A Wrinkle in Time, to name a few I remember.

By 11, I was working my way through the adult books. I read Benchely's  Jaws, Marilyn French's The Women's Room, Stephen King's Carrie,  John Updike's Couples, James  Jones' Some Came Running, and Xaviera Hollander's The Happy Hooker  before I could wear lipstick. {I didn't check that one out...I found it in Mrs. Terry's house while I babysat her children. They weren't good children. I deserved it.]

By the time I was 12, Carson McCuller's The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding pretty much blew me away. 

What I learned?  Censorship is untenable. Don't worry about what the kids are reading-- worry when they aren't.

Mindy Friddle is the author of The Garden Angel (St. Martin's Press/Picador), selected for Barnes and Noble's Discover Great New Writers program in 2004. 
Her second novel, Secret Keepers (St. Martin 's Press/Picador), won the 2009 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.


Karin Gillespie said...

I love that photo of yours. I just read Member of the Wedding for the first time and its my new fav book. I just adored it.

Heidiopia said...

So true, Mindy!! I worry about all the children out there that are not readers. Readers are leaders!

Kathy L. Patrick said...

I too loved the photo and couldn't agree more. Letting children read without censorship sends a very important message that reading is entertainment. Along the way we discern our tastes and learn good writing from the bad, we develop out tastes. Coming from a childhood of Nancy Drew, Tarzan, Archie and Veronica comic books to Kurt Vonnigutt and Tennessee Williams, sometimes in the same day, I totally understand. Thanks for a great post and look forward to more!

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Peggy Webb said...

Very astute, Mindy. The important thing is not to censor what children read but to teach them to think for themselves and to read, read, read!

Laura Marcella said...

Love this!!! I was reading adult books before I was a teenager, too. My parents encouraged it, but my teachers were a little weary. Fortunately, I was a model student and achieved great grades so I suppose that convinced them I wasn't being negatively influenced by adult literature, LOL.

You were an adorable 9-year-old!

Mindy said...

Thanks happy to hear everyone loved to read from the get go!

Timber Shelton said...

For the most part, I let my 12 year old daughter read what she likes, which is the same stuff I like to read (it is also what is in my personal library). At 10, she saw the movie "Gone With the Wind" and loved it. She asked to read "Scarlet", the sequel, and I told her that was fine but she had to read the original first. (Since the movie had several changes from the book.)

She still hasn't taken me up on that one, but I was happy to let her indulge in my Stephen King collection. She was surprised to find out how much scarier books are than the movies that are based on them.

The "Twilight" and "House of Night" series are more up her alley, and that is just fine with me, because I love them, too!

I am just happy to see her enjoy reading. That said, I think I will keep my "Sookie Stackhouse - Southern Vampire Series" books to myself for a few more years. ;)

nreddick said...

All great reads, Mindy. Had you not had the German experience, wonder what you would have done?

Ad Hudler said... look exactly as you did at age 9. How many people can say that?