It's (usually) more complicated than that.
(By chris the cynic)
Inspired by a tangent over at Ana’s place.
What TV shows, if any, did you watch as a child?
What books did you read?
My memory isn’t very good. I more remember that I remembered things than remembering the things themselves.
So I remember remembering Wishbone as Odysseus shooting the arrow through the axe heads, I remember that Mr Rodgers involved a train, I remember that my favorite character on Sesame Street was Oscar the grouch, I remember that only certain people could see Ghost Writer, I remember that my sister and I loved Wild America, I remember that the kid in the yellow shirt with the poofy (red) hair didn’t really like the field trips even though one took place inside of him and in another he saved himself by invoking certain death on himself (averted by children’s cartoon) by removing his helmet on Pluto (“What’s his name froze for my sins,”) I remember that the Science shows were Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman’s World. (I think the second showed how to break a ruler in half using a newspaper, a table and hammer.)
But ask me for details and I have them not.
As for the books, there was a series starring a mouse named Christopher that tended to be “What is an X” or “Why does it Y?” (What is a volcano? Why does it rain? that sort of thing) and another series that I can’t think of identifying characteristics right now.
In addition there was Katie and the Big Snow, the Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss (even though the text of the book said you should not hop on pop my sister always used the title “Hop on pop” as her excuse for hopping on my dad) at least the first book of the Boxcar kids. Something I very much meant to say but forgot as I was writing this, not sure what it could have been.
My mother is always shocked and outraged that we don’t remember Mr Bell’s Fix it Shop because apparently we used to demand it be read all the damn time.
And, because I was me and my mother was my mother, as a child she read to me out of a great big book that contained the Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, and Jurassic park. At some point, I would have had to be at least nine or ten by then, I think we read The Lost World together as well. In Jurassic Park there is a part where raptors try to bite through something that’s electrified. It sends a shower of sparks. My mother misread it as sharks. She quickly corrected herself but we none the less had great fun imagining what a sudden shower of sharks would have done to the story.
One day when I was quite young I got it into my head that I wanted to read Moby Dick so we went to see it in the library. I slogged through the first page with great difficulty and then read looked at how many chapters there were in the book. Not how many pages, how many chapters. CXXXV. I gave up. I do believe that that is the only time in my life I have not finished a book once started. Probably not the best children’s reading.
And I think I’m running out of stuff to say about childhood media consumption beyond this random list: Garfield and Friends, Roundhouse, You can’t do that on Televison, All That, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Wild & Crazy Kids, probably other stuff.
When I was a kid, I watched PBS shows with my parents: All Creatures Great and Small, Mystery!, Nova, Cosmos, and sometimes Masterpiece Theater. I also saw a few episods of assorted Saturday morning or after school cartoons at friends’ houses (Scooby Do, Dungeons and Dragons, Pole Position, that show that did cartoon versions of kids books, He-Man, She-Ra, and, I think, GI Joe.) For the most part, I could’ve taken or left the cartoons.
Trying to list everything I read, however, could take a long time. I’m told I was quite fond of Richard Scary, Bill Peet, and Beatrix Potter books when I was a little, little kid, but I don’t remember them very well. I remember reading a long out of print book called _Ghost at Garnet Lodge_ with my parents (we all took turns reading) when I was 4ish, which may have been the first older kid book we all read together. We also read a series of animal books – I remember a book/character called Sammy Jay, but not the author or anything else helpful. But mostly we read a lot of mysteries: Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Dana Girls books, also Judy Bolton. And adult mysteries: Sherlock Holmes, the works of Agatha Christie, PD James, Dorothy L Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh. We read _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of the Rings_. We read James Harriot’s books. We read _Wind in the Willows_. We read Lloyd Alexander. We may have read _The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe_ (I know I did and didn’t like it, but I can’t remember whether we read it together.)
I think I discovered Diana Wynne Jones while still in grade school, though somehow we never ended up reading her books as a family. I also tried a lot of the sci-fi and fantasy books my dad had, not realizing that at least half of them were ones he’d tried and didn’t like. (I didn’t like them, either.)
I still really like/love a lot of those, but when I was 14 I discovered _Star Wars_ and space adventure became my thing.
My parents didn’t have a TV for most of my childhood. They got one for a while, and then decided we watched it so rarely it wasn’t worth the license fee. (The fact that is was kept in a cupboard in my parents’ bedroom, and you had to climb up the ladder onto their raised bed, and sit on it, to watch it, may have had something to do with this.) But I do recall being enthralled by the exploits of International Rescue. I was vaguely aware that it had puppets rather than actual actors, but this was a minor detail.
TV was a new medium when I was a child. I watched The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy on Saturdays. There was also some children’s show on a local station (probably WPIX) and Romper Room on weekdays, but I didn’t like that much. I loved the show Omnibus on Sundays because the theme song was Aaron Copeland’s “Overture for the Common Man” and I loved Alistair Cooke’s voice. I was maybe five at the time so I couldn’t follow the show itself, but I would listen for the music. I also liked “You Were There”, although that, too, I couldn’t follow too well, but bits and pieces caught my attention.
Then of course, there was the original Mickey Mouse Club, with Annette and Bobby and the other Mouseketeers.
As I got older, I lost interest in TV and was more likely to read. I read a lot of biographies of famous women, which is how I learned about Lucy Stone and decided that when I got married, I was not going to change my name (and I haven’t). I also learned about Dorothea Lynne Dix, a reformer of the 19th century who worked to improve the mental health facilities of her day (which were basically jails with no parole). She’s still my hero.
I watched PBS shows such as Wishbone, Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Nova, Bill Nye the Science Guy…
Though I read far more than I watched. I read prolifically, going through the majority of the children’s section at my local library. It was a small branch library, and eventually to finish my favorite series or find different books, I had to sending requests to the other branches to send to my library. I tried to list all the books I read as a child on goodreads, but then realized, that it was absolutely ridiculous task. There was too many, and I just don’t remember them all.
The ones that stood out series wise:
Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit
All of Tamora Pierce’s Books (loved, loved, loved her books)
Star Wars Young Jedi Knights
Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear (something or other. It was really gooey a lot of the time, but the girl heroine was awesome!)
Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Actually anything by Patricia C. Wrede)
Austin Family Series (Moon by Night, Ring of Endless Light, Troubling a Star — all by Madeline L’Engle)
Wrinkle in Time
You Want to be A Wizard series
Pern (All the ones I could find)
For stand alone’s:
Maura’s Angel (Reid banks is the author I think)
Indian in the Cupboard
Howl’s Moving Castle
The Last Unicorn
Swallows and Amazons
There’s tons more I read, but those are the ones that stuck with me and impacted me the most. I also read a lot of astronomy and physics books, though I didn’t understand a lot of it until I went to college. But I loved reading what I could, and especially looking at the pictures.
Chris: I remember that the kid in the yellow shirt with the poofy (red) hair didn’t really like the field trips even though one took place inside of him
His name was Arnold. My memories of kiddie television are mostly like yours, but when I was…whatever the age group between toddler and pre-teen is called, we taped a few dozen of them, then showed them to Brother several years later when he was the age I had been. So those memories are fresher. (Arnold was also their resident Jew. At the time, I’d kind of assumed the whole world (or at least the whole country) was like my home and thought it was weird that there was only one Jew in a group of eight kids instead of the three to five I would expect.)
I remember that the Science shows were Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman’s World. [...] But ask me for details and I have them not.
I thought I was just barely too young to remember Bill Nye. (I remember just enough to know that I watched it, which puts it into the category of “can’t watch it because it would weird me out too much watching it again for the first time”.) You’re about eight years older than me. On the other hand, I have no idea what Beakman’s World is.
at least the first book of the Boxcar kids.
I had dozens of those, too. Also the first thirty or so of Magic Tree House. (Then I passed them on to my brother and he got a few more, which I don’t think I’ve read.) *looks at list* Mine were thirty-one of them, I think, and oh my god they’re still making them.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
I only got to see that when the Nickelodeon game show network was on preview. It was one of my favourite preview channels, mostly because of that and Double Dare.
When I was 8 – 10 or so, I loved Chalkzone. I really loved Chalkzone. I would sleep weird hours to be awake to watch it (if you were lucky, they’d show three or four episodes a week, so I didn’t want to miss any). I would count the days until the season premiere. My first Internet hangout was on the official Chalkzone fan-board on Nickelodeon’s website. When getting to know somebody new, I would always ask them if they liked it too in the hopes of finding somebody offline to share my enthusiasm with. (I got a bunch of “What’s Chalkzone?”, a few “no”s, and one “yes” that wasn’t nearly as enthused as I was.)
Not sure why it just popped into my head, but “The Secret Staircase”, the books where the mice find the key to a long forgotten door which lets them into a closed off part of their world much larger than the part they knew about.
I goofed. The Aaron Copeland piece is of course “Fanfare for the Common Man”, not “Overture”, but either way it was kickass theme music, even if I didn’t know what else was going on. And it was “You Are There”, not “were”, since the whole point was that you were witnessing historic events as they happened. However, in my defense, i must point out that Walter Cronkite ended each episode with, “And you were there”. I wish I were a little older when those shows were around, because they were some of the golden age of television.
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