One time, in second grade, my teacher said we were forming a foundation. That all the math and english and history we were learning may have seemed simple compared to what our older siblings were doing but it was a necessary foundation. Like a basement. We needed to learn the simple math so that later on algebra and those weird graphing formulas would make, at least, a little bit of sense.
So, too with the books one reads as a child. These shape the type of reader you’re going to be as an adult, arguably they shape the type of person you’re going to be. The books you read as a young person inform you what your favourite genres are, where in the house you like to be when reading. That last one is very important.
And so, to that mind, we thought we’d dedicate the next week to children’s books. The close forebear to young adult. The ones you read as a child that stuck with you all through high school and college and working and other adult stuff. Or the children’s books you’ve discovered now, as an adult or young adult, that still strike that chord. To get the week started we’ve each written up a little blurb on our favourite books from our childhood and we would love it if you would share your favourites with us as well.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
I can always relate to this book, no matter at what age. Everyone has bad days. Sometimes it’s a very bad day. And every once in a blue moon you might have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. We’ve all been there, Alexander. But don’t worry, there’s always tomorrow.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The thing that always stuck with me about this book was when Karana talked for the first time after being left on her own. Can you imagine not having to talk for weeks? For months? Silence would take on an entirely different thing once you stop talking. Plus, the ingenuity of this girl was astonishing to me when I first read it. It’s like the girls’ version of Hatchet.
The Babysitters Club and The Babysitters Little Sister series by Ann M Martin
These books were my obsession when I was a kid. I was part of both fan clubs and received all these “special” Babysitters Club items monthly, along with my new books. I had all of the BSC dolls (Claudia and Stacey were my favorites to play with, while my best friend at the time always wanted to be Kristy). And when the movie came out – oh, boy. My mom could *not* drive fast enough to the theater. I refuse to believe Mary-Ann and Logan did not end up together and everyone is still friends and they all are immensely successful wherever they are now.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
I remember when I read this book in 5th grade even now. It was one of those situations where it was supposed to take a few weeks and I read it all in a night. It changed the way I looked at kids books and young adult books, because it had a girl who kicked butt and took charge. It had a girl who was smart and capable and knew what she wanted and was willing to sacrifice to get it. Too few children’s books have a heroine like this, and it made me feel like a little bit less of a freak for being a tomboy and preferring getting dirty to playing dolls.
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
This is still one of my favorite books, and I’ve never been able to figure out why it stuck with me like it did. It was a book with adult characters about the problems in their adult lives. As a kid, I know I wouldn’t have understood the depth and political commentary this book gives. But I do know that I loved the story and the characters. Jean Merrill took what could have been a silly fun story (which the book still is) and gave it a resonance that is still with me so many years later.
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
I re-read this book once a year. It’s fun and adventurous and keeps you turning the pages. But more than that, I related to William more than most characters. When you’re ten or eleven or twelve, people don’t take you seriously when you talk about growing up. But at that time, you realize things are about to change, that you’re not quite a young adult but you’re not a kid anymore either and that’s a scary time. Reading William’s struggles in Castle in the Attic helps you feel less alone, and makes it seem like you can do things on your own – that you don’t need the familiar supports you’ve always relied on, even if you will miss them when they’re gone.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Just because I will never forget how much I loved this book
Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume
When I read this book I was the same age as the characters in the book and everything they went through struck such a chord. Especially the challenge of keeping friends when you aren’t forced to see them everyday. This conundrum still rings true today for me. That friendship, like any other relationship, takes work and sacrifice but, in the end, is always worth it. I also remember loving that the first chapter is called “Hunks” That really spoke to eleven year old me.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
This is first book that made me cry. I sobbed at the end. I don’t remember how old I was when I read it, but I don’t remember ever being that emotionally involved in a book before this one.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Some people read the Babysitters Club. I read the Boxcar Children. Adventure and mystery and children taking charge and solving problems themselves. These were like my bible as a child. I wanted to be Violet so bad. I still use the sugar cookie recipe I got out of one of these books.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff- This is my go-to book to give to little kids, because it teaches the most valuable life lesson of all- never give anyone a cookie without a glass of milk and no no good deed goes unpunished! Just kidding…mostly, but it’s still one of my favorites.
Any an all Dr.Seuss- This man taught me to love alliteration and rhyming- and also helped teach me how to read. When I worked as a tutor I threw away the reading curriculum and used the Cat in the Hat- within two weeks the kids were reading. Never doubt the power of Seuss.
The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne pretty much defined my childhood and my little sisters. They brought my own stuffed animals alive and taught me the power of imagination. To this day the only book on my iPhone is Winnie the Pooh, and yes I teared up when I saw the preview for the new movie.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- I read the original version, I saw the original movie, I read the 1990s movie version and saw that movie. I was in love with this book. I did it for all of my book reports and still managed to like it. I loved the history within it, but more than anything else the power and bond between the sisters was palpable…even if I am still annoyed that Laurie and Jo never got together…
Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville. I read this book in fourth grade and still remember it to this day about a girl who could save the Unicorns. Now probably since I was horse obsessed freak I just liked the fact that it was about a talking unicorn, but still it was a great book.
So, welcome to Kids Books Week here at whatchYAreading and look forward to more reviews all week! And don’t forget to tell us what your favourites are or were.