I remember being five years old and working my way through Little Black, A Pony by Walter Farley (June 26, 1915 - October 16, 1989). Up to that point, I had become an expert picture book reader. But this marked a new landmark in my progress as a reader. It was the first "real" story I ever read. I remember sitting on the couch with my mom beside me. She encouraged and helped like she did with the earlier Dr. Seuss stories and other picture books, but she mostly left it to me to figure out the words on my own. It was hard work, but I loved the story and I loved reading, and I felt like such a big boy by the time I finished. I was also excited to repeat the process with Little Black Goes To The Circus.
There's no way to know how many books I've read since then, probably far into the thousands, but I will always remember Hop on Pop as the first book I read by myself, and Little Black, A Pony as the first real story book.
It was a few years later when I discovered that Farley had written a whole library of books about horses, most notably the entire Black Stallion series. By then, I wasn't so much into books about horses. I read a few Black Stallion books, but none of them had the same impact on my life (as, in fact, few books since have) as Little Black, A Pony.
(Note: This is the last of the planned Celebrations posts. What do you readers say? Should we continue this series? Is it interesting?)