Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Favorite Childhood Reading

I mentioned in my last post that we've been discussing favorite childhood reading on the child_lit listserv, so I thought I'd repost here the message that I sent. (I've made some tiny edits.)

Like another reader, some of my favorite books (especially in fourth grade) were biographies. My earliest reading memories, though, are of my father reading me Madeline and, my very favorite, Nomi and the Lovely Animals, a book I haven't thought of in years though I can recite large parts of it by heart (and I had no idea, until just now, that it was by Louis Slobodkin). My father also read me the entire Lord of the Rings series, though I only really remember him reading The Hobbit; later I read them all myself and virtually inhabited that world for a while. The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House books, the Streatfeild "shoes" books, and anything by Madeline L'Engle were also favorites that I read over and over again. There was also a collected Twain and a collection of similarly-bound Alcott novels in my grandparents' house, where we spent some summers, so I read those over and over as well. And does anyone else remember Thee, Hannah? That was another one from my grandparents' shelves...

There are more, of course, but I'll stop after mentioning the Moomin books, which I also remember reading over and over at around the same age (somewhere under 12).

Some of my old books are at my parents' house and I've enjoyed introducing them to my children as my mother must have enjoyed introducing her old books to me. What a pleasure to remember all of these!

Edited to add: here's a piece from the Times Online with some writers' favorite childhood reads.


  1. I've loved reading your blog. Parents Magazine had a book club and books would appear at our house for each of us. Two of those books I read over and over: Five in a Tent and The Good Land. I read everything by Louisa May Alcott. Like many ex-pat girls, I read series after series by Enid Blyton: Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Twins at St. Clare's, Mallory Towers, etc. There were not children's books at my grandmother's house, so I had a very early introduction to Patrick Dennis, Jean Kerr, Mary Stewart, and Agatha Christie. And I read those books over and over, too!

  2. I have incredibly fond of *Thee, Hannah*, and just been thinking of that and *Henner's Lydia* recently. They're wonderful books -- not least because they don't condescend to children.

  3. I loved the Moomins too, but still am troubled about which order it is best to read them in! It's almost time for another read of Moominland Midwinter...

  4. I remember having eye surgery when I was seven and being able to really see small print for the first time. My mother's friend gave me The Secret Garden at the hospital and I LOVED it. I later read The Little Princess by the same author and liked that one even more.