What is Your Most Beloved Book?

I have an old copy of Uncle Wiggily in the Country by Howard R. Garis. The copyrights are 1916 and 1940. The title is worn, the book is held together with tape. Various children have colored its yellowed, torn pages. The book was first purchased by my grandma to read to my aunt and my mother. They were born in 1940 and 1942 respectively.

Grandmother and Uncle Wiggly
Grandmother Nicholls and Uncle Wiggily

Then, my mother read it to me and my two sisters, one older, one younger. We used to cuddle in the center of my sister’s twin bed and listen as she read each chapter. We would embrace under the covers protecting each other and hiding from the tiddlewink, an evil but sympathetic creature with claws and sharp teeth who lived in any body of water from swamps and ponds to bathtubs and washtubs. My mother died when I was eight, and yet, I can recall the sound of her voice as she mimicked Uncle Wiggily, his nephew, Sammie, the bad old tiddlewink, and various other characters in the book. They were moments I cherish.

I read the stories to my children. In fact, I read something to them every night all the way into to their teen years. But it started with this one. The Publishers Note says:

Uncle Wiggly and Beach March 2014 003

Uncle Wiggily Longears is a rabbit gentleman who walks with a cane. He and his nephew get into all sorts of adventures in the country as you can see by the table of contents.

Uncle Wiggly and Beach March 2014 006

It is not illustrated with pictures. Everything told in it had to develop from your imagination. I listened with awe as each chapter told of another adventure. The chapters all end with a silly piece of nonsense that was designed to intrigue young readers into looking forward to the next chapter, and it worked. Being a bit of a comedian myself, I eagerly anticipated the next story and looked forward to the silliness at the end of each chapter. They were catchy little nonsense phrases like:


“’I wonder what will happen next?’ And what did I tell you on the next page where you may read a story called ‘Uncle Wiggily and the Ice Cream,’ that is if the stick doesn’t fall out of the lollypop and hide under the rose bush for the pussy cat to play tag with.”


“And by turning over a page, if our chimney doesn’t jump over on the other roof to visit the stovepipe next door, and forget to come back in time for breakfast, you may read about Uncle Wiggily and the rose-bush.”


“Now, in the next story, if the bathroom sponge doesn’t drink up all the baby’s milk and go to sleep in the china closet, I’ll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the bark canoe.”


“And if the man who cuts our grass doesn’t pull up all the dandelions and turn them into tiger lilies, I’ll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the cheerful cricket.”

They are timeless stories that I am now reading to my own granddaughter, 74 years after they were purchased by my grandma, and she loves them, also eagerly anticipating the nonsense at the end of each chapter.  She always asks me to explain what is meant, and often I can’t do that…they are meant to intrigue and entertain.

Do you have an old, treasured, dog-eared book that you could not possibly part with?

43 thoughts on “What is Your Most Beloved Book?

  1. I don’t have any books that were beaten up that badly. I was very gentle with them. One of the big books of my childhood was ‘You’re Only Old Once’ by Dr. Seuss. I can never find it, so it might be out of print. It was one of my favorites because it had a part called the ‘Pill Drill’, which I memorized. Now that I’m older I realize it’s a sarcastic statement on the healthcare system.


    1. Haha! Some things never change.

      I don’t recall that one by Dr. Seuss, but I think I would like it. This one went through four generations of children in various families. How I ended up with it I’ll never know.


      1. I love encouraging children to read and to stimulate their creative imaginations. So much nowadays seems about replacing imaginations rather than developing them. Maybe it is stimulation in another way.


      2. It takes a lot of imagination to work math, at least some of it that is so very abstract, but I hear what you’re saying. Business, too.The humanities are being crushed because they don’t generate tons of quick monetary income…and that’s sad.


    1. Awesome. I got the idea for the post from Sarah Cradit and Beckett when they posted their contest on Facebook. I missed the contest. Didn’t see it in time, but still wanted to tell about my beloved book and find out if others had such a treasure. Reading to children is so important in my mind. I have other treasures, of course, that I discovered on my own.


    1. Milo is about fifty years old now? Our childhood books are certainly comforts.

      I have hard copies of most of Anne Rice’s work that I could never part with as well.


  2. What a wonderful tradition you’re passing down! Mine would have to be the Winnie the Pooh and Little Bear books I read to my boys when they were little. Many bedtimes (and other just because times) were spent in their company.


  3. The House of Arden by E Nesbit. Still devoted to it and still read it at intervals. I don’t have it to hand to check. but I think this edition was published in 1902. My mother had read it in the ’20s and coloured in some of H R Miller’s drawings. Other than that, it’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Alice. Of course!


    1. Then I know it is treasured.

      When I consider the adversities my grandma, mama, and myself have faced and the number of times this little book has moved and changed hands, I am surprised it is still with us.


  4. I love the Little bear books as well, but my favorite series as a kid was The Great Brain books. The illustrations are fantastic (I think Mercer Mayer?). I had a HUGE crush on the conniving, Tom Sawyer-like character Tom. Sigh.


    1. That’s cute, and your still remember that feeling, to fall in love with a character.

      I had a World Book encyclopedia as a child with translucent pages that over layed the human body systems. I was fascinated to be able to “see” inside the body. Having studied it so as a child probably helped me through nursing school.


    1. Oh I do remember that one! “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. Sometimes it hurts, but when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” I always thought…wait a minute! I do mind!


  5. My mum bought an old folk fairy-tale book from a charity shop when I was very young, and she’d read it to us regularly. It is a great book, with great stories. I love it, even if it’s very well used, hope one day to read it to my kids.

    What a lovely post 🙂


  6. Reblogged this on Plain and Fancy and commented:
    There are several childhood books in my library that are in the I’ll-never-part-with category, except maybe to pass on to grand-children. One of them is Come to Storyland, which I’ve posted on Facebook. Here is blogger friend and author Susan Nicholls’ story about her favorites:


  7. I don’t have an old book from childhood, although as an older child/teen, and even an adult I read and re-read Anne of Green Gables. My husband and I loved reading to our girls though. We can both probably recite “Goodnight Moon.” Our daughters packed away many of the childhood books they can’t bear to part with. My younger daughter loved a book called “Teena and the Magic Pot.” It was the book we always read to her when we visited my in-laws, so a few years ago, my mother-in-law gave it to her. My older daughter has some of her favorites–and recently stood in line to get Tomie de Paula’s autograph. 🙂


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