On the way home from school, my roommate and I were talking about our favorite childhood books. I was always reading when I was younger (and I still read a lot now, though because I'm juggling work and school, it's a little harder for me to make the time.) I was surprised to find out that Karen and I had a lot of the same favorite books and my talk with her inspired me to post about kids books here & to reread some of my old favorites.
When I was growing up, my mom let me read her copies of the Edith & Mr. Bear books by Dare Wright. I loved that they had photographs instead of illustrations, it made everything seem so real and wonderful. Dare actually lived near where I grew up & she wrote & photographed all of the Edith & Mr. Bear books on her own. There's a great biography of her called The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright by Jean Nathan. (The photo at the top of this post is a portrait of Dare scanned from The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, isn't she beautiful?) I scanned some more portraits of Dare from The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll they're
I can't remember how old I was when I first read The Little House in the Big Woods, but I do remember reading the title out loud and embarrassingly misreading it as The Little House in the Big Words. i grew up in the suburbs with parents who worked full time, so the world that Wilder wrote about in the Little House books might as well have been a complete and total fantasy to me. It all sounded so quaint & wonderful and I still remember the silliest little details: Laura's corncob doll, eating maple syrup on snow, putting butter in tiny molds shaped like strawberries. My roommate & I bought an atlas & charted out a roadtrip route that would take us through each one of Wilder's childhood homes. Who knows, maybe some day we'll actually t take that journey.
I've probably read A Wrinkle in Time a zillion times. At Least. Growing up, and even know, I loved the story of Meg Murray and her younger brother, Charles Wallace, and their search for their missing father. I think, what I mostly loved, was that Meg was bookish and unpopular and awkward, but absolutely brilliant and brave at the same time. I didn't read a lot of fantasy or sci-fi growing up, but something about L'Engles Murray family drew me in and I've read bunches of books about them - A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, An Acceptable Time, even the biblical Many Waters (starring Meg's twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys.)
When Karen and I were driving home, one of the few books that we had in common was Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, the story of a young, rich girl who's traveling alone & becomes swept up in a mutiny on a merchant vessel. I told Karen, "Everything I learned about boats and pirates, I learned from Charlotte Doyle." Which is true. And probably means that I don't have very much accurate knowledge regarding boats or pirates. But I do know what a round robin is!
Growing up, and I'm not even kidding, it was my absolute dream to spend the night in an empty museum. Because of this, it's probably no surprise that one of my all-time favorite childhood books is about a brother and sister who run away and live in the museum. From the Mixed-Up Files... is a fabulous book about mysteries and art and runaway kids figuring out where they belong. I will probably always love it.
Zilpha Keatley Snyder was pretty much my favorite author growing up. I named my first zine, Headless Cupid, after her YA novel The Headless Cupid & still long to have a tree house like Libby from Libby on Wednesday. Her books often blend an air of the occult with mystery & the normalities of adolescence. I reread her books all of the time & so many of them have a close place in my heart. Particularly the two pictured above & the recently reissued, The Changeling, which my mom read out loud to me before I could read on my own.
What about you? Do you have favorite kids' books? What are they?