Saturday, January 28, 2012


My bed bookshelf

I love to read.  The first book I read was a biography of Benjamin Franklin.  I was in sixth grade.  I sat in the back of the classroom.  Behind my desk was a wall long cabinet.  On top of that cabinet was a collection of orange books.  Those books were biographies of American historical figures, some of whom were  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, etc.

My Sixth Grade Class (I was absent the day this picture was taken - my desk was the third from the right in the back - my friend Billy B. is sitting at my desk)

Me when I discovered books 1953

No one encouraged me or told me to read those books.  I was bored by the class and curious as to what was in the books.  Up until that time the only reading I did were the Tom, Dick and Jane (and Spot) books, the books of Fifties elementary school.  Later I read the Weekly Reader.

Mrs. Yost, my sixth grade teacher who let me read 

I remember to this day picking up that first orange covered book biography of Benjamin Franklin.  I've forgotten a lot over the years but I remember holding that first hard covered book.  I opened it and glanced at the pages.  I was quickly drawn into another world, the world of the 18th century and Benjamin Franklin flying his kite in an thunder storm discovering electricity.  I asked my sixth grade teacher Mrs. Yost if I could take a book home to continue reading it.  She said I could.  It was from that point I was hooked on reading.

I quickly went through the collection of orange covered autobiographies.  I've often wondered if the color orange had a lot to do with luring me into reading those books because I so remember that warm, inviting color.

The Downingtown Public Library

After I finished that collection of books, someone suggested that I get a library card for the Downingtown Public Library.  The Downingtown Library was/is a grand old stone building located on the tree lined residential street that runs through Downingtown.  I still remember the wonderful smell of old books when I first walked into that wonderful, welcoming building.

I got my library card from the wonderful older woman (she was probably 40 but she seemed old to me) who sat behind a desk stacked with books.  It wasn't too long before my library card was filled with dates of books checked in and checked out.

From that day in 1953 until today, I have probably read thousands of books.

My favorite books are biographies, history books, and current events/political books.  I read some fiction but I don't read mysteries, science fiction or poetry.  I never got those books.  It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with those books, it's just that they bore me.

I read before I go to bed.  I read in the bathroom.  I read when I eat.  I read all the time.

What I'm reading now, "Include Me Out", Farley Granger's autobiography

I love reading.

Me reading in bed - my favorite bedtime activity...really


  1. I'm with you about books. i generally read three or four at a time, though they all have to be different sorts of books so I don't get myself all kerfuffled.

  2. Ron,

    And don't forget comic books. You were reading comics by third grade because that was how we met over those all in color for a dime books.

    That librarian was old. She retired (or died) sometime after we were in sixth grade. There was a new librarian then, a young woman, and she became a mentor to me. I loved that library, practically lived there in Jr. High days.

    I don't remember the first book I read. I began reading very early. I know I was reading Big Little Books at the swamp, so that was when I was in first and second grade.


  3. Larry,

    Reading is one of the treasures of my life. That and Bill and good friends like you.

  4. Ron,

    And speaking of books, here is a lesson on why you never give up. Kathryn Stockett was rejected by 60 Agents when she was trying to get her book, The Help, published.


  5. Bob,

    I never get kerfuffled when I read books. :) That's probably because I stick to movie star biographies and historical novels and political tomes.

  6. No wonder you are a marvelous man!
    You are a card carrying member of the Pleurisy!

  7. That's funny. My love affair with reading began with that same series of kid biographies you first read! But I remember more than orange covers....a lot were orange but some were blue too by the time I was old enough to read them.
    I picked one up at my small elementary school's library when I was 8 in 1967.
    After that I was hooked on those books and read all my school had in that series before the school yr. was out. I think the 1st one I read was on Clara Barton. I also remember Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Dare, Teddy Roosevelt and Jim Thorpe.
    I tore through those books!lol They were so fun to read.

    I've enjoyed reading biographies since then and much prefer them to most novels. ;-)

    Thanks for bringing this memory back for me!

  8. Slugmama,

    Now that you mention it, there were also blue covered biographies. I have such fond memories of reading them. I think I read everyone. I would love to have a collection of them now. I wonder what kids read in school now.

  9. Dr. Spo,

    What is Pleurisy? Is that a good thing?

  10. Oh my gosh I just tried a Google search "looking for little orange books that were Biographies in grade scool in the 50's.........that's alot of words in a search but eventually I found your blog..I am so interested in finding out who wrote those books? Are they still in schools only in another jacket??? I can vividly remember the spark those little books ignited..I had trouble in reading in 2nd grade & had some help over that summer & from then to today I am also an avid reader. ANd enjoy many different types of books...Any thing you can tell me about these books will really be appreciated so much!!
    Diane K.

  11. Diane,
    How wonderful to hear from someone else who also read those little orange books. Those books also sparked my reading passion. I don't know who authored those books. Perhaps my fellow classmate and friend knows. I'll ask him and get back to you with an answer.

  12. I also found your blog because of my search for the author of the little orange books. I loved them and read every single one....I will check back again to see if there is any more information...

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who remembers these orange biographies. I would love to get my hands on some of them, They started me on the path to reading. One of the greatest joys of my life.

  13. ditto...i loved those little orange biographies and read them all...Who authored the books? my question, too...will check back to see if you have received any responses.
    ann w


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