Uses for Golden Books

golden-book-gownI was astonished to stumble across this picture. A Golden Book Gown! Apparently it uses 22,000 square inches of the shiny material that binds the “Little Golden Books.” You can read more here.

Imagine what the publishers of the original dozen titles in 1942 (including The Poky Little Puppy) would say if they saw this dress. More importantly, think what they would say if they saw their sparkly bindings still beloved on children’s shelves!

Just yesterday my daughter and I were scouring the book racks at a second-hand kids’ store. We found several of the classic “Little Golden Books” titles to add to the ones already passed down to her kids. And at 50 cents each!

Quite a few “Little Golden Books” survived my childhood intact (probably due to that gorgeous binding). These books meant everything to me as a child. Growing up in the 1950s, the emphasis was on kids learning to read for themselves. And “Little Golden Books” handed us the key to the adult world of reading: they were our size, they held our stories, and they glittered. 

My mother was hands-on in every aspect of my education: she’d have made a fabulous homeschool mom if such a thing had existed. But, oddly enough, I don’t recall her reading aloud to me. I’m sure she did, but I am guessing it stopped when I began to read for myself. Maybe reading aloud wasn’t a key admonition during the Doctor Spock age. 

But she herself read books and magazines constantly, and my dad read every newspaper in existence. So we all read—but quietly, to ourselves.

With my own kids, adopted at older ages from the forests of Russia, we had different items at the top of our agenda, including cultural transition, and acclimation to the “modern world.” I didn’t read aloud enough to them. 

Grandchildren have given me a chance to put many things right. I make reading aloud a top priority, and, of course, a great joy. It has allowed me to revisit the stories and poems of my childhood, for starters. I see far better how reading aloud builds a multifaceted relationship between child and the book, child and the reader, child and the imagination. If I had any doubts, they were erased through a close friendship with a mom I deeply admire. Across 20+ years of raising her kids, she has made a daily period of reading aloud a keystone of her family’s life. Her children, looking back, will recall those thousands of hours as among their dearest memories of childhood.

I even read aloud sometimes now to my grown daughter (my son lives too far away). She says she enjoys it, and I know I do. Such a simple thing, isn’t it? What else, so accessible and pleasant, bears more fruit?

Meanwhile, be careful showing this picture to your little ones. They might decide to experiment with the bindings on their Little Golden Books. My four-year old granddaughter immediately hatched the idea to make a similar gown for her doll. (I think I successfully squashed it.) Consider yourself forewarned.

Image: Ryan Jude Novelline (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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