Throwback Thursday – Favorite Childhood Books – Month of May – 2nd of 4 #throwbackthursday #childhoodbooks

For #ThrowbackThursday during the month of May, I will share four of my favorite young childhood books.

I grew up on a 600-acre ranch near Fort Morgan, Colorado. I was riding horses from the time I was big enough to sit up in front of my dad on the saddle. As I grew older, I participated in horse shows and 4-H with my horses. My point is that horses were an important part of my youth.

When I was eight or nine years old, my parents gave me a hardback book called A Horse for Henry. At that age, I identified with Henry, because he wanted his own horse, and so did I. What my parents wanted me to take away from this story was the theme of responsibility and that you could earn certain privileges by demonstrating responsible behaviors.

Somewhere in the process of growing up, I not only forgot about the book but, as Kris Kristofferson wrote, I lost it somewhere, somehow along the way. So, a few years ago, I decided to search for the book. It took patience and time, but I located three paperback copies. I’ve tucked two copies away. I gave the third copy to my first great grandchild (Emmett). Well, I gave it to his parents. 🙂 Emmett will be one year old this coming June 4th.

You’ll notice the author’s name is not on the book, which makes me sad. On the bottom left, you’ll see the publisher is Whitman, and the Roman numerals translate to a 1952 copyright date. The illustrations certainly pigeonhole the book as classic 1950s and early 1960s style, but they also bring up fond reading memories since I am of the generation who learned to read with Dick, Jane, and Sally and “See Spot run.”

A Horse for Henry goes like this…

What Henry wants most is a black colt named Shine, but he hasn’t shown that he’s dependable enough to take care of a horse. He leaves a saddle out in the rain. He forgets to load the salt in the chuckwagon. He leaves the corral gate open, and the horses get out. His dad tells him, “Son, when you can do a man’s work and do it right, you can have a horse.”

Just when it looks like Henry will always have to ride the family’s pet mule and never get a horse of his own, through some quick thinking on his part, he saves his little brother (and himself) from a cougar.

The next morning, Henry wakes to find Shine tied outside his window, and his dad says, “You’re a man now, Henry, and a man can’t get along very well without a horse of his own.”

Now, from my adult’s perspective, I look back on the popularity of the traditional western novels, television show, movies, and perhaps even some of the country music during the era when A Horse for Henry was published, and I see this story as a post-WWII children’s slant on the Old West theme of “what makes a man a man”.

This story, and its message, has stayed with me all these years and, every time I reread it, I remember why.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
Lasterday Stories
writing through history one romance upon a time


  1. That’s exactly it. Henry does everything wrong. He doesn’t follow simple directions. He’s very wrapped up in his little boy self. Then he and his little brother tread water in a pond waiting for the cougar to leave and the men at the ranch to find them. Henry learns several lessons. He grew up in a matter of moments when he had to step outside of his own world to take care of his brother and himself.

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