My parents purchased these for my sister, but I took and claimed them as my own when I was old enough to read. I can't tell you how many hours I spent reading through each volume.
I've seen other editions of these but I think the 1964 version is the best. Since it was my first set of encyclopedias I may be a little biased :)
I learned how things worked, was built, and invented. It was Childcraft that gave me my first intro to Poems & Rhymes. My imagination took off while reading through Holidays & Costumes.
However my most favorite one was Stories & Fables. I remember reading each of the stories and then re-writing them in my head. I think it was the first time that I'd read The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and today so many kids have not heard of it. I also loved the Aesop's Fables and Brother Grimm. In fact, I still have several fairy tale classics in my office. How many of you were shocked at how dark the original Brother's Grimm stores were? A tad bit gory.
When my sister and I were little, she would always ask me to tell her one of my stories at bedtime and of course I would. But I never made up simple stories, nope...even as a child my stories hovered on the fantastical side and they were LONG! I was actually telling a novel! My sister always fell asleep before I'd finished, but that didn't stop me I'd keep going and entertained myself :)
I guess all this ties into my love of books, reading and writing them. What were some of your childhood favorites. And for you writers, how does your childhood favorites tie into what and how you write :)