June 27, 2012

Childhood Favorites

Okay, I have to be honest here and admit that I just did a search of my blog to make sure I hadn't already covered this topic in an earlier post.  (Is this the first sign of dementia or Alzheimer's? It worries me sometimes how forgetful I can really be!)

Although I've talked about books - often - on the blog, I don't think I've ever highlighted my childhood favorites.  If I have and I missed it on the search, I apologize.  

I know I've mentioned the Little Golden Books that my mom once read to me, but surprisingly they don't really make my list of childhood favorites.  The books that come to mind when I think back to my impressionable childhood years seem to be centralized around a 10- or 11-year-old me.  These were the books I read on my own. These were the books that turned me into the reader I am today.  One of them even inspired dreams of becoming a writer myself. 

The opening chapter of Harriet the Spy will always hold a special place in my heart. Her explanation of how to play Town resonated with the fledgling writer within.

Opening chapter snippet from  Harriet the Spy  by Louise Fitzhugh: 
Harriet was trying to explain to Sport how to play Town.  "See, first you make up the name of the town.  Then you write down the names of all the people who live in it.  You can't have too many or it gets too hard. I usually have twenty-five."
"Ummmm." Sport was tossing a football in the air. They were in the courtyard of Harriet's house on East Eighty-seventh Street in Manhattan. 
"Then when you know who lives there, you make up what they do.  For instance, Mr. Charles Hanley runs the filling station on the corner." Harriet spoke thoughtfully as she squatted next to the big tree, bending so low over her notebook that her long straight hair touched the edges. 

How fantastic is that?  Of course, the book isn't about Harriet the Writer, it's called Harriet the Spy for a reason. This little heroine is one inquisitive (snoopy) little girl! Her love of Town is outweighed only by her need to know and record other people's business. Writing it down only becomes a problem when the notebook gets lost and ends up in the hands of the very people she's been spying on.

I wonder if I can blame my notebook buying habit on Harriet, too?  Hmmm.  

At the same age when I was reading Harriet, I was also in love with a boxed set of books about a horse named Gypsy.  It's been so long since I've read these books that I don't remember much beyond my adoration of the fictional Gypsy.

Gypsy from Nowhere Gypsy & Nimblefoot Gypsy & the Moonstone Stallion

I'd say that these books are marketed with young girls in mind, but I think my youngest boy would enjoy them.  He's quite the animal lover and I think he's right about the perfect age for this trilogy.  (Did you see what I just did there...I gave myself a reason to put the books back on my bookshelves!)


Of course, I have to mention Shel Silverstien's poetry collections.  My favorite is Sick. I couldn't tell you which of the books it's in, though. What I can say with certainty is that it's never in the one I pick up first.

A Light in the Attic       Where the Sidewalk Ends

I also feel as if I should mention Are You There, God?  It's Me, Margaret.  I don't remember this as a feel good book.  Funny in spots.  Terrifying in others. Margaret's story in some ways could be a field guide for the transition between being a little girl and becoming a young lady as it addresses both social and physical transformations.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Okay, that's all I've got time for today.  I know there are so many more, but these are the ones that always come to mind when someone mentions childhood books.

So, tell me, what were your favorite books as a kid?