Childhood and the Books that Influenced Me

In A History on July 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

Do you ever reminisce about the illustrated books and stories you read as a child? I sometimes think about it, and how they may have influenced me now through my tastes in life. My childhood was full of reading. I was a veritable bookworm, complete with a silver necklace given to me by my parents that had a worm wearing glasses. Yes. I know. I’m still surprised I had friends! Oh well. But I got to thinking today that I should record my favorite (not not so favorite) books that make me think of my childhood. If I ever start a family I’d love for my children to read these exact same books and share the memories I had. Let me know what you think!

Books that Influenced Me as a Child (I’ll stop at the age of around 11 or 12) Not in any particular order

  1. The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton- Oh, my. Who’s read this one? I think it was the first book I read about time travel and history and such. The part where she finds a scratch on her leg that was similiar to the one in her dream? I still remember that! My mother and I were supposed to read this together, but she decided playing Game Cube with my brother was more useful of her time. I read most of the series by myself but I never finished it, because I never forgave her, I think.
  2. Paperquake: A Puzzle by Kathryn Reiss- My 4th grade teacher actually had this on her bookshelf and during daily reading time this was the book I chose. For those who don’t know, it features past regression in San Francisco. So fascinating. I accidentally took it home and never gave it back to my teacher… (oops)
  3. Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd- I saw the movie first, which I remember better, but once again, I see a trend developing…time travel seemed to be one of my favorite topics as a kid. And time travel through an elevator? Cool!
  4. The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot- I mayyy have been a bit older than 11 when I read these, but I can’t remember for sure, and anyway, I don’t quite care! This series deals with a girl who sees ghost and happens to fall in love with one. The ending of the series was so romantic! Cabot, a champion writer for young adults, made me wish severely that I could see and speak to ghosts. Especially since my mother claims her grandmother and great grandmother frequently saw ghosts of passed loved ones. Hmm…
  5. Holes by Louis Sachar- I’ll say this with all honesty– I usually HATE reading books where a guy is the protagonist. I can’t help it! I simply can’t relate to them. And even though I can’t relate with being sent to a prison camp to dig holes all day, this book is universally liked by both boys and girls. Although casting Shia LeBeouf was cast as the main character, I got over it…sort of.
  6. Dreadful Sorry by Kathryn Reiss- Another past regression novel by Reiss, this one was a little bit older and was a bit scarier. I read this several years after Paperquake and this is definitely one of my favorites. Although I’m pretty sure my fear of drowning came from this book…..
  7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- such a sweet book! The part where their sister dies and the poem about her made me cry. I distinctly remember staying in bed all day one Saturday in 4th grade and reading it completely. When I told my friends on Monday they were all astonished. I was known as a fast reader back in the day.
  8. The Secret Garden by Frances H Burnett- Ok I actually really hate this book but it still made an impression on me. Terrifying. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of this. Does anybody actually like this book? Does anybody actually find it happy? Geez. So sad.
  9. Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene- Yeah, I’ve already written 3 posts about this so I don’t think I need to add anything. I’ll just say that these were my by far my favorite books growing up.
  10. Twin Spell by Janet Lunn- ahhh! Who’s read it?? Such an amazing book!! I actually wrote a short story probably in 3rd grade that was similiar to this. My mother read it when she was a girl and searched for years trying to find it (it’s out of print). It’s about twins who move into an old house with a doll and start having odd dreams about the past. It’s a great combination of spooky and eerie while still remaining young adult appropriate.
  11. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg- This is actually one of my least favorite books. I liked the sentiment, but I just remember feeling so sad about the whole bell ringing for only the ones who believe. Especially how the parents couldn’t hear it. It made me not want to grow up, which is somewhat the opposite of children’s storybook objectives.
  12. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle- awww, who doesn’t like Eric Carle books? I loved the illustrations. The story about the the cricket was also amazing. We still have all of them.
  13. Stellaluna by Janelle Cannon- another favorite. This was bought at the Scholastic Book Fair my school had twice a year. My brother bought Verdi, another by Cannon. My mother would read each of these to us every night. I’m not quite sure why I picked Stellaluna and my brother Verdi, but we each liked our own more.
  14. Bun Bun’s Birthday by Mercer Mayer- I get teary eyed just thinking about this book. This isn’t a very well known one. I’m not quite sure how I got it. I assume a relative gave it to me since I have a stuffed bunny named Bun Bun. The whole book makes me so sad until the end when I’m just a little bit less sad. In second grade I won a trip to the kindergarten class to read during story time and I picked this book.
  15. The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright- Who’s heard of Betty Ren Wright? She wrote these books before I was even born, but I found her entire collection at the library and would just re-rent them over and over again. I got into a dollhouse phase, not where I wanted one, but where I wanted to read every book with a dollhouse in them. Strange, right?
  16. The Ghosts of Mercy Manor by Betty Ren Wright- my favorite of her books. If you’ve read her but never this one, go do it now! I once recounted the plot to a neighboor who was maybe 4 years younger and her mother called the next day to tell me that her daughter had nightmares the entire night and couldn’t sleep because of the story I told her. Which was funny, really, because I was probably her age when I first read it. I promise I didn’t embellish or anything!
  17. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter- my grandmother has a set of china dishes from when my uncles and mother were young (50s and 60s) and they have the story line written and illustrated on each dish. It was one of my favorite parts about visiting the grandparents.
  18. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel- these were written in the 70s and 80s, actually, but OMG did my mom, brother and I cry over laughing in this series. The wolf scene actually terrified me, but the ice cream cone on one of the amphibian’s head had be cracking up. How many of you have read at least one Frog and Toad book?
  19. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister- Seriously. Quite possibly the most beloved children’s book. And the illustrations were just beautiful, especially the shiny scale.
  20. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish- I actually remember to this day reading all of these in reading time in second grade. My teacher even baked us a lemon meringue pie (which I found absolutely horrifically disgusting) after the book in which Amelia bakes one. Every one of these books is so hilarious. Definitely a classic.
  21. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch- Have any of you heard of this? This one was lost in my memory for quite some time before it suddenly popped out after watching Tangled, of all things (I’m an adult, I promise…it was on HBO). It’s so adorable and cute!
  22. The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy- Ohhh, yes. A favorite story of my childhood (it was my mother’s too). It’s such a cute plot line and plays on every child’s fears of the librarian (mine was very nice, actually).
  23. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scienszka- read this in the school library over and over again with my friends. Who remembers this gem?
  24. The Mitten by Jan Brett- I can’t help but smile when I think of this book. It’s such a sweet story! Any child’s book involving animals is going to be a winner in my eyes. Brett’s book about the hedgehog actually inspired my second grade assistant teacher to buy a hedgehog as a pet and brought to class (although, now that I think of it, can you actually buy hedgehogs? Perhaps she found it in her backyard….)
  25. The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osbourne- My brother had to read these for school but I sometimes listened to him or my mother reading them. I’m glad I did, because I seem to be in the minority for people who have or haven’t read them. I love that they’re mystery novels. Somehow childhood mystery novels makes it seem to any person reading them that they can, in fact, solve their own mystery. And who doesn’t want that?
  26. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon- hehe. Has anybody read this? This was a personal favorite in my entire school for some reason. So silly.
  27. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams- Ok. I hate this book. Like, really hate it. But it did influence me. I literally couldn’t think of a worse fate ever than having my stuffed animal burned in a flaming pile but actually turning into real life. Because, in my mind when I was a child, my stuffed bunny will actually live forever (or as long as I live) while as the velveteen rabbit will die after a few years since bunnies don’t have exceptionally long life spans. And then the boy NEVER realizing that his stuffed bunny became real?? Who writes that sort of thing and calls it a children’s book!
  28. The Nutcracker- I read and read a copy of this from my local library where the girl’s name was Maria. I loved the way she had her hair half up and half down, and so I dubbed the hair style the “Maria hair-do” and

It’s quite possible I’m leaving a few out, but I’m aging…I can’t remember every great book in my childhood.

I think there’s something very amazing about sharing memories like these with other people. And isn’t it amazing how our own mothers and fathers could have read the very same books they read to us when we were little? Children’s books are essentially timeless. They can be passed down from one generation to another without ever losing their sparkle or charm. I like the idea of sharing my favorite stories growing up because some readers may find that we share similar memories, too, or favorite books. Are there any on here that you never read? How about ones you read that aren’t on my list?


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