Of course I have no memory of this. I went to a kind of school and learnt to read when I was four, but all I can remember is the height of the steps I had to climb up to get to my seat – we were on a little platform, and I think the top of the three steps was level with my head. And my mother didn’t keep my books and toys either.
The earliest book I can remember getting as a birthday or Christmas present and reading a lot of, though, is quite interesting: an American poetry anthology for children which appeared in 1957 and I got it then, so I was ten. And I found it is still published today. It had a wonderfully wide selection of poems and was on beautiful thick paper – a luxury in those days – and had modern printing.
Here it is at amazon.com, and you can look inside and see all the contents:
Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected For Boys and Girls [Hardcover]
Helen Ferris Tibbets (Author), Leonard Weisgard (Illustrator)
I still have the book, but in England. I don’t remember a dustjacket, and I don’t remember illustrations, but maybe there were.
And there was another anthology, which cannot have been this one, which contained an English version of a Hölderlin poem: Life Half Lived. I will have to look at my bookshelves again in Upminster to see if that is there too.