Thanks Be To The Hardy Boys

What starts a person reading?  What makes a young child believe that sitting down with some printed pages and a cardboard cover and quietly reading can be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours?

For me, it was the Hardy Boys books.  I’m not sure when I first read one of the Hardy Boys books, but I’m pretty sure I immediately became hooked.  Who wouldn’t be interested in the exploits of Frank and Joe Hardy?  After all, they were two all-American, clean cut lads who lived with their wise, grey-haired Dad, who was a famous private detective, their Mom, and their Aunt Gertrude.  For some unknown reason, they were improbably wealthy — heck, they even owned a motorboat — and they had girlfriends, lots of other friends, and countless adventures.  I religiously collected the Hardy Boys novels, and tried to read every one that had ever been written.  My favorite was Hunting For Hidden Gold, where Frank and Joe were pictured on the front cover digging up a sack of gold coins by flashlight as some bad guy lurked dangerously in the background.

What was it about these books that spurred my imagination?  I’m not sure, exactly.  Maybe it was that the books used old-fashioned words, like “chum,” “sleuthing,” and “jalopy,” and that Frank and Joe had friends with weird names, like “Chet” and “Biff.”  Maybe it was that Bayport, where Frank and Joe lived, seemed to generate mystery about once a week.  Maybe it was that Frank and Joe always were impeccably coiffed and wore v-neck sweaters, no matter what season it was.  Maybe it was that their simple adventures, bravery, pluck, and nerve were just enough to trigger my imagination, but not overwhelm it.

Whatever the reason, the Hardy Boys got me in the habit of reading, and it is a habit that has lasted to this day.  For that, I am grateful to Franklin W. Dixon (and therefore all of the writers who created the imaginary world of the Hardy Boys under that durable pen name).

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47 thoughts on “Thanks Be To The Hardy Boys

    • You’re thinking of The Box Car Kids – I read those too!

      I started reading with Mum before I went to school, she taught me the fairy tales and nursery rhymes typical of childhood. And once I started school and had a steady supply of new books, I was off and running.

      I read the Box Car Kids, Nancy Drew, The Babysitters Club, the Little House on the Praire books, Goosebumps and all kinds of books. You name the kids series, I’ve probably read it 🙂

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  1. What a fabulous tribute. I too read The Hardy Boys. I can remember sitting on the library floor at school in the 4th grade and devouring each book. In fact, when there wasn’t a Hardy Boy novel available I’d read Nancy Drew! Thank you for taking me down memory lane!

    P.S. Now my 9-yr. old likes to read The Baby-sitters Club!

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  2. Great post! I can’t say I was a big Hardy Boys fan, but I still remember the book that “got me reading.” It was Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon. Maybe not the most literate of novels, but it worked for me.
    Ryan

    PS Came to this by way of Freshly Pressed.

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  3. What started my reading? Enid Blyton’s mystery books.

    I found reading enjoyable as it’s a form of escape. What better way to pass my mundane life as a kid than to get immersed in a good mystery that needs solving?

    I remember visiting a bookstore once with my dad when I was around ten, and he’d let me buy whatever Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels I could get my hands on.

    We left the store with a huge box full of those books. Good times, indeed. Even now I’m still a great fan of good mystery novels, though I’d probably don’t to read as much as I’d like to.

    Great post! Thanks for make me recall my childhood.

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  4. Great tribute to The Hardy Boys. I haven’t read many of the books, but I was a total Nancy Drew addict when I was little. Still am.

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  5. My favorite was The Clue of the Broken Blade. I also really liked The Disappearing Floor, even though the story was beyond absurd. Incidentally, I was reading these in the early 1970s, when the early books in the series were being revised (and, in my opinion, dumbed down). So to any young collectors out there, I would say: look for editions published before 1958!

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  6. Awesome post. I don’t remember exactly what books got me into reading, but the Hardy Boys were definitely a part of it. I started out with Nancy Drew, but when I’d read all of those that our library had I moved on to Hardy Boys. ^^

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  7. Wow…
    Optiluiz here,
    When I was in the second grade our teacher used to take us down to the library so we could choose some books in the young children’s section to take home.
    She eventually realized that I was kind of bored with the repetitive picture books, so she took me to another section and well…i met the hardy boys. Had that not happen, I would probably never even get near a book today. I’m deeply grateful for both my teacher and the Hardy Boys…
    I hope that more kids can have a chance to enjoy quality literature at a younger age…

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  8. I think I started reading very early, thanks to Enid Blyton. She was one heck of a prolific writer and churned out so many fantastic series of books. My vote would go to ‘The Famous Five’, ‘The twins at St Clare’s’, ‘Malory Towers’, ‘The Five Find-Outers’, and most beloved of them all…’The Magic Faraway Tree’ series 🙂

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    • I made my mum read that to me every single night for almost two months and she’d try and make it more interesting for herself by slightly changing the story. But I always knew when she did that and would force her to read it word for word. She absolutely hates it and cannot hear the words Poky Little Puppy without looking slightly deranged. Poor mum.

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  9. I cannot IMAGINE a world where a book does not exist! For me, the hook to never stop reading was the Little House series…after that, the Nancy Drew series…in my teens, alas, I took a side-street into some true-crime stories (ick)….but–reading is key!
    Thankful to be married to a reader, have a daughter that can’t put books down, and finally, after years and years, see my son understand the pull of a good book.
    blessings–and congrats on Freshly Pressed!
    jane

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  10. I loved The Hardy Boys series after I found my dad’s old copies on our bookshelf. After turning in a couple of book reports on Hardy Boys books, my 3rd grade teacher insisted I read something else for future reports. That’s when I discovered Agatha Christie, but Hardy Boys has still always been a favorite.

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  11. Hunting for Hidden Gold was one of my favorite Hardy Boys novels growing up. I think I might have to go find my copy and read it, for old times sake.

    -X

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  12. I too was obsessed with the Hardy Boys. Read read read. I got every one from the library. Always had my own ideas about how all of the characters looked. I bought one recently with the idea of writing kids mystery stories, and I needed some inspiration. You spurred my to go and get it and read it….

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  13. Loved the Hardy Boys but I hate to admit it was Shaun Cassidy on the 1970’s tv show that did it for me. My love of reading began with the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I couldn’t get enough of the Little House on the Prairie books. Thanks for bringing back some great memories Bob.

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  14. Ah, Hardy Boys. I got a few of those. Nothing like a good mystery-solving, pesky kids that thwart the bad guys (who would have gotten away with it).

    Though I can’t remember what book got me into reading. I know I was reading a lot before I got a hold of a copy of this book.

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  15. I credit my love of books to my parents reading to me every night. However, once I got old enough to do my own reading, Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew were the drug of choice! Not sure what it was about these old fashioned books, but they definitely do hit the spot.

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  16. I’m having trouble remembering… which is ridiculous, considering I’m only 15.
    My Mum and sister read most of these to me before I read them myself.
    Clifford The Big Red Dog, Disney books from movies like ‘Aladdin’, The Starlight Barking, The Indian In The Cupboard, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe.
    The first books of my own I got were Miss Wolf And The Porkers, and something like ‘Ghost Bird’.
    And you’re all saying Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, but… TRIXIE BELDEN! She came along like a decade later, and she was younger than Nancy, I think 13 at the start, her age progressed and I think Nancy just stayed the same age?

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    • Yes, this October has been a month is for being freshly pressed. Here at Webner House we feel a bit like a colorful autumn leaf between sheets of wax paper.!

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  17. Reading this post brings back lots of memories. The Hardy Boys got me started reading (I love every adventures of those young sleuths!). Thanks for this wonderful post!

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  18. Great post.

    Part of my 9-year-old son’s bedtime ritual is me reading two chapters from a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book. We’ve been through well over a dozen in the past year, with many more to come I’m sure.

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  19. Fantastic concept you have here! I love the Hardy Boys series. My father purchased a number of them when I was young and my collection grows to this day. I still have yet to read the majority of them though, as college term papers are quite the time consumer…

    Great post, again!

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  20. Dr Seuss first got me going and then Enid Blyton. I read all the famous five, nancy drew and hardy boys but did not read the secret seven – seemed that if you were a famous five fan you had to stay in their club and not support the secret seven 🙂 . My favorite Enid Blyton book was Tuppeny, Fifo and Jinks- I have yet to meet someone else who has read that book.

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  21. Enid Blyton all the way! but for some reason I was under the false impression that Nancy was for girls and the Hardy boys were for boys. it took me a while to catch wise. Although i haven’t read everything, I’m looking forward to reading them to my nieces and nephews as a excuse (My 1st niece is 1 month old).

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  22. dear mr. prospecter,

    what makes a person carry on tradition?

    we value your post.

    mother lode

    CWAnderson
    Blaze finds the Trail, Billy and Blaze,
    Nancy Drew

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  23. ad. lucidus, I too began reading via Enid Blyton’s books as a child. Thus, my fascination with Enid Blyton’s books was later to inspire me in writing and publishing a book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com).
    Stephen Isabirye

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  24. The return of the Hardys!!!

    I just loved this as a kid… i had many favourites… Thick as thieves…. Remember that one in which frank thinks joe’s dead, and joe thinks d reverse? N i was just deeply in love with that female, Charity and her flirty ways wid joe(always saw meself as joe hardy…dunno why…)
    The submarine caper… the shattered helmet…the flaming torch…the infinity clue were others which i used to read religiously.

    And, boy, was i envious of their equipment? All those tiny pen lights, and cars and bikes and stuff… Pretty neat! 🙂

    Thank you, Franklin W. Dixon for the Hardy Boys… and thank you Webnerbob for refreshing their memories….
    God Bless.

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  25. Ah those were the days. Well, I started off with Grimm Fairy Tales and Enid Blyton books, and progressing onto the series of Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew..list goes on. These days tearing my little cousin sister from the cartoon channels results in a blood chilling scream, can’t even flip the channels. Progress through time !!

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  26. planejaner: I’m STILL reading the Little House books. If you still read those books, you may want to read the Melissa Wiley book LITTLE HOUSE IN THE HIGHLANDS since it’s the story of Caroline Ingalls’ maternal grandmother, Martha Morse, and one year in her life as the daughter of a late 18th century Scottish laird.

    Then there’s LITTLE HOUSE BY BOSTON BAY, which tells the story of Charlotte Tucker, Caroline’s Ma, as a little girl during the War of 1812.

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