The Guardian is asking its readers “What are your favourite non-fiction books from childhood?” The answers, I notice, seem slanted more toward books of facts and information rather than the more narrative sort. It got me thinking about what sort of nonfiction I enjoyed as a child (in the 1960s).
First of all, I too was a fan of fact books, especially the field guides listing all sorts of rocks, birds, or butterflies. They covered so much, were colorful, and spoke to my collecting instincts. The size also mattered as I loved that they were so small and compact.
I then really enjoyed biographies and autobiographies. Probably the most important for me was The Diary of Anne Frank, but I also was fascinated by Helen Keller and read a number of her autobiographical works (of which the most well known is The Story of My Life). Albert Schweitzer was the Mother Teresa of my day and so I read about him (can’t recall if it was a biography or autobiography) with great interest. Then there were animal books, say Joy Adamson’s Born Free about raising a lion and putting her back into the wild.
Lastly, while we now do not consider them nonfiction, since I did way back then I will mention The Childhood of Famous Americans books. Can’t say I remember much about them other than their orange covers and being into reading as many as I could.
What about you? What were some of your childhood nonfiction favorites?