Monday, February 29, 2016

My Childhood in Books

I had a book filled childhood. Very book filled. It's no wonder I love books as much as I do. I want to share some of my top childhood favorites, the ones I read and reread repeatedly. This isn't exhaustive, not by a long shot, and I probably still picked too many, but I loved them all so much, I couldn't exclude any. Let's get started.

Historical Fiction

Thursday's Child--This is my favorite Noel Streatfeild and my favorite orphan story. It has everything you could ever want in an evil orphanage, great characters, a daring escape, and a perfect happy ending. It's also the reason I read Bleak House. 

Nelly in the Wilderness--This book fueled my pioneer obsession which began with Little House. A rough, frontier widower with two children takes a city wife. Complete with rattlesnake bites, a baby wildcat, and even an appearance by Johnny Appleseed. Not-so-happy ending, but I loved it just the same. Fantastic character arc, now that I think about it.

Turn Homeward, Hannalee--The mill hands were stolen from their homes during Sherman's March and shipped north. Hannalee Reed is determined to fulfill her promise to her mother and come home. I first read this while we were going to see George W. Bush, and have read it many times since. I especially love it because they journey through places I have actually been.

Caroline Little House Books--Of course, the Laura books are very special, but they were family books to me. On my own, I LOVED the Caroline books. About Ma growing up with her five siblings, struggling to live after Father died, the series takes her from age five through her marriage to Pa. As a child I only liked books 1-5. 6 and 7 are fantastic now that I'm older, though.

Elsie Dinsmore Series--The series follows Elsie from age 8 through becoming a step great grandmother. They're full of literary flaws, but Elsie's faith is inspirational, the first 10 or 12 books contain great stories, and most of all, they're full of good memories. My mom read them to my sisters and me, and I also reread them on my own.

The Secret Garden--Spoiled brat and orphan Mary Lennox goes to live with her mysterious and absent uncle. She makes new friends in the strange secretive house and coaxes an abandoned garden back to life. I still want my own secret garden.

A Little Princess--Sara Crewe is rich, but very sweet. And when her father dies and she is forced to work as a servant in her now former boarding school under cruel Miss Minchin, she continues to be the true princess she is inside. Far better than the Shirley Temple movie.

The Journey Home--Two sisters journey out west on the orphan train. Orphans and pioneers in one book equals perfection.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond--"She's NOT a witch!" I vehemently exclaimed while stomping my foot. Kit Tyler doesn't fit in with her Puritan relations, and when she begins to associate herself with the Quaker woman everyone assumes is a witch, she herself is accused of witchcraft! No real witches, pure historical fiction. This book has been a read-aloud in our family multiple times, and I've read it myself even more.

The Bronze Bow--This also is a multiple read-aloud, multiple rereads on my own book. It's about a young blacksmith who lives at the time of Jesus. He hates the Romans and wants to drive them out, but he begins to encounter the teachings of Jesus, which slowly soften his heart. Then there's the part of the story about his sister who is possessed with a fear demon.

Samantha Books--It's no surprise that orphan Samantha was my favorite American Girl. I especially loved the orphanage parts with Nellie. I even wrote a screenplay of the Samantha story once, because the official movie cut out a lot of things I liked.

Anne of Green Gables Series--I love these books to pieces. They are such a part of my life. They're also books that were read-alouds multiple times that I read and reread on my own. Who doesn't love an imaginative redhead like Anne Shirley? All the redheads that show up in my books...yeah, this is where that comes from.

Fantasy/Science Fiction

The Chronicles of Narnia--Fantastic allegories, amazing stories, memorable characters. I'm the biggest Narnia fan I know. When some girls from my old homeschool group were writing something on Narnia and were supposed to ask an "expert" about something regarding it, they said they should have asked me. 

The Tale of Despereaux--The story of a mouse, a princess, a rat, and a bowl of soup. I used to read this at night because it was scarier then. All my dungeons come from this well-beloved book. 

A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door--These two books pretty much reach the level of Narnia as far as how much I love them goes. Classic battles of good versus evil told in a new way as Meg travels across the universe and into the microcosm of her brother's mitochondria. It's a powerful story.

Mary Poppins--I'm...the only one in my family who really loved these books. Nevertheless, I thought they were fantastic. If you like the Disney movie, these are far better. Who wouldn't want Mary Poppins for a nanny?

Tuck Everlasting--Explores the idea of immortality on earth, not actually a pleasant experience. This book impacted me a lot. Again, far better than the movie.

Five Children and It--What would you do if you could have any wish granted? Cyril, Robert, Anthea, and Jane have the opportunity to find out, and it doesn't always turn out the way they hoped. Being beautiful as the day isn't so great when the servants won't let you in the house, and you'll wish your baby brother was a baby again when he's suddenly grown up and ordering you around. It just goes to show, be careful what you wish for.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle--Does your child have a bad habit you can't break? Just call Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. She has a cure for everything. And her cures are quite interesting. Like magical hearing powder for Thought-You-Said-itis.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles--I haven't read this in a really long time, so I don't know how it withstands the test of time, but I loved it when I was younger. I was fascinated by the idea of a magical land you could reach by using your imagination. And what a magical land it is! Quite the adventure.


A-Z Mysteries--These were a lot of fun. My favorite was The Deadly Dungeon. But my best memory of the series is of when I emailed the author, Ron Roy, and he actually emailed me back. That was so amazing! I never managed to own any myself, though. These all belong to my sisters.

The Boxcar Children--I LOVED these books. Orphans and mysteries together in one series. Of course, as mysteries go, they're not really great, but I enjoyed them a lot. In spite of the inconsistencies. :)

Trixie Belden--These were special to my mom's childhood, and she passed it along to me. Trixie and Honey get themselves into all kinds of trouble trying to solve mysteries, but their brothers always come along to rescue them. Again, not exactly good mysteries, but fun stories just the same.

The Westing Game--This one's a good mystery. The movie doesn't do it justice. So many complicated threads, different "games," and I'm still not sure I understand how it all works out, after reading it so many times. It's absolutely fantastic.

Mid 1900's Contemporary

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--Something about running away from home to hide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is just very intriguing. Lots of stuff about history and art. My sister and I acted out the entire book one day. It was pretty awesome.

Gone-Away Lake--Originally a read-aloud, these books made the journey from the library to our house countless times before we collected our own copies. A girl and her cousin find abandoned summer homes on the edge of a swamp...or are they abandoned? Gone-Away is a fantastic place, both now and in its glory days.

Shoes Books--They're all about different characters, though a few of them connect, but they're all about children who work on the stage, either as dancers, actors, or both. Usually both. My sisters never got that into them, but I absolutely loved them...especially the ones about orphans. Though not a Shoes book, I also really loved The Children on the Top Floor. I wish I owned it.

Ramona Series--My sister loved these more than I did, but they're still a big part of my childhood. Ramona starts off as a brat and ends up a pretty good kid, though she still has a penchant for getting herself into trouble. "Guts, guts, guts!" My dog's middle name is Ramona because of this character.

Because of Winn-Dixie (this is 2000, not mid-1900's, but close enough)--Opal doesn't have any friends in her new town, until she takes in a mangy dog she calls Winn-Dixie. She makes interesting and unusual friends and brings the town together...all because of Winn-Dixie.

Mandy--Mandy has a decent life for an orphan, but she longs for a place of her own. She finds an abandoned cottage in the woods and fixes it up. She makes some poor decisions and almost gets herself killed, but everything works together for the best, and she gets what she always dreamed of.

There are far more books that I love, but these are the top...I think, it's so hard to choose.

What are your childhood favorite books? Do you like any of mine?


  1. Bronze Bow, Trixie Belden, Ramona, A to Z mysteries, and The Westing Game are amazing books!

  2. Anne of Green Gables! :D
    I've read the Laura Little House books and the Rose ones, but I actually didn't even know there were Caroline books. Thanks for mentioning that!

    1. :D
      There are also Charlotte (Laura's grandmother) and Martha (Laura's great grandmother) books. I really liked the Martha books and liked Charlotte okay, but I LOVED the Caroline books.

  3. I absolutely love A Little Princess, the Caroline books (some of the best Little House books!), Narnia, The Westing Game, and so many others on this list! I have too many childhood favorite books to count, but one of the biggest ones you haven't mentioned here is Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (and most of her other books as well!). Another, lesser-known childhood book I still love is All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. And my all-time favorite book that I first read around middle school is The Lord of the Rings. And your post about books makes me happy, just saying! :)

    1. I love Caddie Woodlawn and All-of-a-Kind Family too! There are just too many books to mention. Those are very good, I just didn't read them quite as many times as the ones on the list. The sequel to Caddie Woodlawn (I never know which title to call it) was one of the first books I checked out from my new library system after I moved. I love LOTR as well, I just didn't read it until I was a teenager, so it didn't make the cut. I could talk about my favorite books all week and not get to them all. :)


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