Sadly, even though I read like crazy as a child, the only book I remember from my childhood is The Girl With the Silver Eyes and it was pure fluff. Nothing to pass on to the kids. I wish I had paid more attention to titles and authors back then.
You have mentioned so many favorites. Here are a few more, which perhaps will help someone find a book for a child. But many are out of print, so look at the library or the interlibrary catalog.
“Half Magic” by Edward Eager. I didn’t know about E. Nesbit until I had kids, but he gives her a run for the money.
“Ballet Shoes” and especially “Dancing Shoes” by Noel Streatfield, whose characters were more interesting than the ballet (although I did love the ballet, especially after I stopped taking lessons).
Madeline Polland’s “To Kill a King” (and, later, “The Queen’s Blessing”), which was one of many books leading me to the Catholic Church and which gave me my patron saint and my web name.
“Sun Slower Sun Faster”—another book which taught me about the Catholic Church long, long before I joined it.
The Raggedy Ann and Andy books my mother had saved from her childhood.
And her Thornton Burgess “Mother West Wind” books.
“The Diamond in the Window” by Jane Langton, which has my all-time favorite passage about the consequences of choices and going backward to fix the bad ones.
there are others…
My children’s tastes are not all the same as mine, but one or another of them has usually loved each of my favorites. Hopefully grandchildren will fill in the gaps some day.
I loved all those books you mentioned, Melanie, especially A LITTLE PRINCESS. My original copy, read to me by my mom, no longer has a cover, is in at least 3 pieces, and has my name scrawled in elementary school handwriting. I still have that copy along with at least 3 other copies that people have given me.
Another series that I loved was the Little House series. I must have read it through at least 10 times. Every year the library had a contest to see if kids could read 100 books over the summer and every year that whole set went on my list. Of course, I loved all the E. B. White books too. STUART LITTLE and CHARLOTTE’S WEB were good, but my absolute favorite is still THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. And while I loved LITTLE WOMEN, my favorites were always 8 COUSINS and A ROSE IN BLOOM.
I found all these books at the library because my mom [with 4 kids in tow] couldn’t stand there and pick out good books for me, but she suggested that I start in the A section and read the blurb to see if it sounded like something I’d like. I made it all the way through the T section before I got too old. I know because I read the whole MARY POPPINS series by P. L Travers. Oh and don’t forget THE SATURDAYS by Enright I believe. So many great books!
And Charlotte, I read THE GIRL WITH THE SILVER EYES and I agree it was fluff, but still a fun read. Brain candy.
Funny about the OZ thing. I don’t think we’ve talked about this before, but I read all the OZ books in my public library in Canton when I was in elementary school. I remember the exact shelf and the covers and pulling each one out to take home and read every week. It was also where I started reading all of their biographies for kids—Thomas Edison and P.T. Barnum standout—as well as my first Hardy Boys.
Of course, the one book (or story, to be precise) that stood the test of time for me was Tolkien’s Middle Earth sagas. From third grade on, I have lived in that world.
Oh, another one was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. I was a bit of a lonely kid too and i loved to imagine what it would have been like to have a telepathic emotional and spiritual bond with another being for life, especially if it was a dragon. You may not be telepathic, but you far exceed my wildest dreams. Now if only you could fly.
The book at the top of my list would have to be CHARLOTTE’S WEB. I read it at least once a year for many years—and cried each time.
Carolyn Heywood’s “Betsy Books” were a favorite with B IS FOR BETSY and BETSY’S LITTLE STAR and her friend EVER-READY EDDIE. They were from the 50’s I think and the story’s were so good and wholesome and funny.
I remember getting one book out of the school library over and over again. I believe it was called Baby Island. These young girls were somehow stranded with the baby’s they were watching. I don’t know why, but I loved that book from 2nd – 4th grade.
I also loved the Little House series and read it over and over again. Sometimes I would just pick up one of the books and read the chapters that I liked.
I loved the Lois Lenski books about children from different areas of the country. The one title I remember is Strawberry Girl, but there was another one about an amish girl with Shoo Fly Pie in the title.
My grandmother gave us a boxed set of Newberry winners. It had Roller Skates, Thimble Summer and A Wrinkle in Time. I’m not sure if it was just because they were always around, but I read all three of them many times.
The Secret Garden was well liked, but not read quite as often.
I discovered the Anne books in middle/high school and they became a favorite.
This one is a bit unusual, but my mother had a copy of The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and I read that many times throughout middle and high school.
I discovered Jane Eyre around 8th grade and it is still, without a doubt, one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. I’ve seen quite a few movie adaptations of it and none of them have ever matched the “movie” of it I have created in my mind. I re-read it each time I have a baby and am sitting up nursing.
As I went through high school and college I discovered that Madeline L’Engle had many adult novels as well and I fell in love with her writing all over again. Her characters are so real and so human and the joy and anguish they endure always resonates with me. The books are not easy to find, but if you find them they are worth reading. Although, I must say that her last few books are a bit too new-agey.
Oh, and there was a whole series of Childhood of Famous Americans that I loved. I read Clara Barton over and over again.
I’m sure I could go on. I too started at the A section and went shelf by shelf week by week. I can still picture exactly where Little Women was.
I was such a deprived child.
I’m currently 30. I never read the Little House books until I was 29. Little Women? I was 28. I read The Wizard of Oz when I was about 25 or so, but haven’t read any of the other Oz books. I’d never heard of any of the “Shoe” books or Noel Streatfeild until I saw You’ve Got Mail. I’d heard of but never read the Anne books.
Prior to 7th grade, I remember being frustrated, annoyed and disappointed with most of the books my teachers wanted me to read. I remember one called Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and another called Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I didn’t like them. They bored me and frankly, I found them rather pointless. I easily get frustrated when I don’t see the point of something and the same is also true of my reading as an adult. I read Christie’s And Then There Were None and it was okay but in the end I was disappointed with no grand theme, moral or point. I didn’t expect one per se, but it is something I always want in a book. I remember thinking I would have liked Charlotte’s Web if our 2nd grade teacher hadn’t read it to us in class over the course of a number of classes. The only early childhood book I remember really liking was the Trumpet of the Swan. The amount of fluff I was supposed to read completely turned me off to reading and I remember despising it for a while.
It wasn’t until Lewis’ Narnia chronicles I realized there were more good books out there … I just hadn’t found them yet. I’ve read them a few times and they are still special to me. Then, in 8th grade I found Where the Red Fern Grows, which I really enjoyed until a classmate spoiled the ending for me. Overall, I can honestly say I wish my childhood reading experience had been so different. I feel like I missed out on so much.
It wasn’t until high school that I finally really got into reading and I think it happened then because by then my teachers were asking me to read Romeo and Juliet, Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlet Letter, Crime and Punishment, etc. – books that had depth, richness of meaning, a purpose.
I don’t really have any books that have been read so many times they are worn because by the time I really began reading a lot, I realized I was so far behind and had so much I wanted to read that I haven’t slowed down much to reread many things.
Also, except for our school library, I don’t think I ever even visited a library until 8th grade or high school. Prior to 8th grade, I still don’t know where the local library was.
So, now I am still playing catch-up reading books I want to read as a 30 year old and books I wish I’d read as a 10 year old. I make notes of book recommendations and people’s favorites and hope I will have a nice list ready when my girls are old enough. Hopefully my children will have a much different, a much better experience reading as a child.
I’ve more usually been a book devourer rather than a savourer. I gobble them up and retain very little.
I am a bit that way with fiction books.
When I was in primary school my father travelled quite a bit and every time he came home he would bring me the next book in the Anne Of Green Gables series. How I used to look forward to reading the next book. They got lost in one of our moves and I have always been on the lookout for the edition which means Anne to me. The dust jackets were lovely illustrations of a scene from the particular book and the hard covers were yellow. I can remember we always had in the bookcase at home a set of Arthur Mee�s Children�s Encyclopaedia; I really loved reading them. We didn�t have a library in my area when I was in primary school but the mobile library would come once a fortnight. I could hardly wait for every second Tuesday to run down the hill from school (Our Lady of Mt Carmel appropriately enough) to join the crowd of people and children in the mobile library. I developed a taste for books telling about ordinary life in other countries which stayed with me into adulthood. Other books which I liked as a child were the Tarzan books and the Jungle Boy books and of course Enid Blyton’a the Wishing Tree and Enchanted Wood books.
When I was a child it was the custom to keep the child with measles in a dark room. My mother made up a bed for me on the sofa and draped a blanket from the bookcase over the sofa so that I could be with the family but in the dark. I knew that if I read anything or looked out into the light I would go blind but that didn�t stop me from reading the grown up books which I could access behind the blanket and hold up the blanket up a crack to let in a little light. Lol It was that fortnight or so which cured me of an unthinking devotion to TV, something for which I have always been grateful.
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