As a child, I read constantly. My mom and dad would read to us every night, and I distinctly remember my dad reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my sister and I chapter by chapter for a few weeks until it was over. My mom is also a bookworm and she passed her love of books to me. Once I learned how to read, I took off! I would check out stacks of books from the library and then spend hours curled up with books in random places…my bed, the porch swing, the couch, the playhouse outside, on the lawn, and even in linen closets. These were some of my favorites.
*Links go to the book’s Amazon listing. If it’s not linked, I wasn’t able to find the listing.
1.Are you My Mother– P.D. Eastman
I loved this book so very much as a child that my mama tells me I had it memorized. I remember asking for it to be read over and over and over and each time being scared by the big thing! Ironically, it was my husband’s favorite childhood book as well, so when our nephew came along we gave him a cardboard (i.e. chew proof) copy of the book to continue the book love.
2.All Mine, Bunny – Pamela Kennedy
I don’t know how or why I came to enjoy this book, it was a cardboard book in which bunny learns to share with his friends after they get frustrated with him and no longer want to play with him. I’m not sure how well the lesson stuck with me since I was a decidedly stubborn toddler who wasn’t a fan of sharing (sorry mama), but the book love remained. I asked my mom about it today and she said my love for it might have been encouraged by how they said “All mine, says bunny” in a silly voice. Sounds accurate to me!
- Jenius the Amazing Guinea Pig– Dick King-Smith
I distinctly remember this being my first chapter book, and how proud I was to be able to read a whole chapter book by myself by the end of first grade. My best friend and I would take turns reading it out loud to each other during D.E.A.R time–the part of the school day that I lived for . This book may have been a precursor to my deep desire to have a guinea pig, and why at the age of 9 or 10 my sister and I managed to keep our room clean for 30 days straight to earn the critters. Sadly, ours never talked like Jenius did.
- Poppleton– Cynthia Rylant
For a little while, my mom was signed up on a book subscription club for kids and I’m pretty sure this arrived in that, unless it was picked up during one of our many visits to Barnes & Noble, aka Book Heaven. This book was, and still is, deeply loved by my family and quotes such as “I can’t eat that, it has a pill in it!” and “Yooooohooooo Poppleton!!! Would you like a toasted cheese??” can still be heard often. We also tend to call each white llama that we pass on the road Cherry Sue. Now we have alpacas and while they’re not the same species, I’m fairly certain that had one of them been a girl, that would have been her name.
- Little Wolf’s Diary of Daring Deeds by Ian Whybrow
I went through a diary-loving phase in elementary school and kept many diaries myself, a trend that continues to this day. Mostly, I stuck with the “Dear America” series, but somehow this book sticks out more than those ones do. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I was reading this book when I forgot my book log for the class party and had to sit out in the hall reading while the class watched “Prince of Egypt”. My mom was incredulous, she couldn’t understand how my teacher didn’t believe that I had read the required amount when I regularly turned in 1,000 page logs when only a third of that was required! Eventually my teacher got a hold of my mom and I was allowed to return to the party, but I think I liked reading about Little Wolf and Smellybreff’s adventures while curled up under the water fountain more (true introvert status).
- Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Oh, this book. The twist on the classic tale, a strong female lead, fantasy, the approachable and thoughtful prince, the writing style, the fairies, other creatures, and the whimsy. For me, there was nothing not to love in this book, and I read it many times. Then, in sixth grade, I named my kitten after the protagonist, Ella. This is definitely a story I will share with my own kids. When the movie came out when I was in sixth grade, my mom surprised me with it and I watched it several times though I was disappointed with the inaccuracies from the book.
- Two Princesses of Bamarre-Gail Carson Levine
Gail Carson Levine was back at it again with this book, and I devoured it at least five times. There was so much adventure and I loved that it was a girl who set out to save her sister. And then there’s her love story and the dragon and a plague…what else would a budding historian need?
- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 -Beverly Cleary
This was another well-loved book, as were all of the other Ramona Quimby tales. She was a character that was so relatable, from classroom happenings (the fruit flies were disgusting and vomit-inducing on Ramona’s part) to drama with her neighborhood buddies. To this day, when I eat toast when I’m sick I think of Ramona! I read this story as well as most of the other Ramona books.
- Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland is in some ways my literary alter-ego, except for the fact that I don’t need pictures to enjoy a book. We share looks (tiny blonde-haired, blue-eyed things), a curiosity of the world, and an overactive imagination. My dad had a super fancy copy of it in a collection of books in his study and I remember really looking forward to the day when I could hold it without the fear of ruining it. Once, there was an Alice in Wonderland day at the library that my mother dressed us up for elaborately, me as Alice, Steph as the Cheshire Cat, and Danno as the White Rabbit. Costumes and face paint were involved and we were all very excited and proud of ourselves…until we got to the library and nobody else had dressed up. Despite the slight embarrassment, we still had a grand time.
- Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
This book is one of the few that I have loved through all stages of life. I remember reading an abridged picture book version of my mother’s from the 1960s, and then decided to tackle the behemoth of the original book, all 700 pages, when I was 10 on a family road trip to California (the more I think about it, the more odd that seems). The book was probably as large as my face. I also had paper dolls of Meg and Beth and read spin off series on each of the sisters. I loved and related to each of the sisters, and now own at least three separate copies of the book…but my heart still gets really excited when I see other interesting cover art or antique copies.
What were your favorite childhood books?