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Friday, July 21, 2017

Childhood Favorites...Huckleberry Finn

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 


Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

In many ways, it's cliché to say that Huckleberry Finn is one of your favorite books.

Well, cliché or not, it is and always will be one of my favorites. I love many of Mark Twain's works, but this one is my favorite.

I first read Huckleberry Finn in high school. I believe I was a freshman. I say that because the summer after my freshman year in 1982, my family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina for several months because my father's job took him to North Carolina State University (Go Wolfpack!) for the summer. The national laboratory he worked for decided it was cheaper to move our family to Raleigh for the duration, rather than have my dad fly back and forth from North Carolina to California all summer. It was awesome. I got to take my finals early and miss the last two weeks of school and the first three days of my sophomore year when we came home.

We bought a tent trailer and drove cross-country from the Bay Area to Raleigh. We took two weeks each way and had a couple of specific stops that my dad needed to make for work-related things. We camped all along the country and one place we stayed was in Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is all focused on Tom Sawyer and Becky and Huck. Riverboats, Tom's house with the white-washed fence, the whole thing.

It was so cool to see this country that I had read about in Huckleberry Finn. To see the Mississippi in all its grandeur and imagine Huck and Jim floating down it.


At a gift shop, I purchased a copy of Huck that looked just like this one along with a copy of Tom Sawyer. I reread them in the car as we traveled.

I love Huck. I love the friendship between Huck and Jim. I have never understood why this book gets banned. I wrote about it recently on Facebook.

I know that people get upset over the racial slurs and the fact that Jim is an adult and Huck a child. Seriously? It's a product of its time. Instead of trying to have this book (and others) banned, I wish people would use them as opportunities for discussion.

Given what is happening in our country today, there are ample opportunities for discussion and comparison. Read this book with your children. Talk about it. Compare it to how people still treat each other because of their race, religion or orientation now. In many ways, unfortunately, things haven't changed. But ask the questions: was it right then? Is it right now?

For good or bad, literature reflects life and civilization. So to ignore history and the literature that reflects history doesn't make it all suddenly disappear or invalidate that it happened. You can't hide it.

Instead, read the literature of the day. Read the literature of the past. Talk about it, even if it makes you uncomfortable and you disagree with the author, with another reader, with a character. But, learn from it and teach each other instead of running from it.

So Huckleberry Finn will remain on my bookshelf. It will get reread. I will think on it with fond memories. I will recommend it to others.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

1 comment:

  1. It's been so long since I read that book that I only remember generalities from it. It sounds like it holds lots of great memories for you.

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