The books I began with in first and second grade all centered around little girls named Betsy. My nickname is Betsy, and it was a popular name in the late 1940’s. McCall’s magazine had a Betsy McCall paper doll each month. There was a Betsy-Wetsy doll, source of much teasing. But best of all there were two series, one beginning with B is For Betsy written by Carolyn Haywood.
The illustration is from that book and actually looks a great deal like me at age 7, with two long braids, saggy socks, and saddle shoes. I never had a purse, however. Better yet, at that time we had a black cocker spaniel named Cinder. The Betsy books didn’t have any more exciting plots than the Dick and Jane ones, but they had long and interesting sentences. And of course, the central character was named Betsy!
The other series with a central character named Betsy started with Betsy and Tacy, written by Maud Lovelace. The one I loved better was Betsy,Tacy and Tib when one of the girls gets diphtheria and has to be quarantined. While diphtheria had been conquered with a vaccine when I was young, polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever and rheumatic fever were constant presences in elementary schools. The idea of being quarantined was very familiar, and I liked seeing how friends retained their connection through it.
There was no television in my home at that age, and reading took me outside of my own family and neighborhood and introduced me to wonderful other characters. Rather like keeping a blog!