I read an article recently called ‘The Top 10 Books I Remember Most.’ The article identifies ten books that made a difference in the life of the author when she was young. This inevitably provoked reflection upon my own childhood and those books which made an impact during that tender time for me.
Here then is my top 10 list of ‘Books That Influenced My Childhood’ including a passage from each I recall the most; without referencing the book:
10. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
This was the first horror book I had ever read and helped me to understand I was only distantly related to the female species – those who longed to be women and couldn’t wait to start their periods! I wanted no part of it and still don’t !
“We must, we must, we must increase our bust.”
9. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
From the moment I understood death is inevitable – I wondered what it would be like to live forever. Tuck Everlasting made me realize there is more torture in a life lived indefinitely, watching your family and friends grow old and die, than one following a natural course. This book somehow took my fear of death away…
“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of a life unlived. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”
8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is such a lyrical book – you practically sing it instead of reading it. I remember my interpretation reading it the first time; never let yourself be tamed.
“And when your sorrow is comforted (for time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend.”
7. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
I admire E.B. White’s writing. This book is a love letter to his writing – but I didn’t recognize that when I read it at the age of eight.
All I knew is Charlotte’s Web confirmed for me what I had suspected since the age of five – animals are people too!
“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
6. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
This book inspired the poet in me although I didn’t feel it at the time.
I read this book so often, I was able to recite most of it by memory and I think it caused new neurons to be formed in my brain inspired by Shel Silverstein’s rhymes that would begin to hatch in me two decades later.
“But all the magic I have known, I’ve had to make myself.”
5. The Empty Schoolhouse by Natalie Savage Carlson
This book simply demonstrated for me how very pitiful are the ignorant but also how important it is not to give in to threat – to stand firm in your convictions.
“Since you quit school in the sixth grade, you’ll never be anything but a motel scrub girl.”
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My mother gave me a copy of this book when I was ten. I never read it but years later I saw a play of Little Women and am still sorry it was my first introduction to the work.
Nothing can ever compare to the book – and by the way – every girl (and some boys) will identify strongly with one of the characters once they read it = I most closely resemble Jo.
“I like good strong words that mean something.”
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book should be compulsory reading by all people on the planet. No wonder Harper Lee wrote just this one book – you can’t follow it with anything less and everything would be less.
Such a powerful story that has lingered with me my entire life. (Also, the movie starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is one of those rare treats of film actually doing the book justice).
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.”
2. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
I am Pippi – at least in my mind!
To me she stands for everything I ever wanted in life – independence, strength, adventure, curiosity and justice.
“Don’t you worry about me. I will always come out on top.”
1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The quintessential story about unconditional love. Everyone should be loved as much as tree loves the boy.
“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.”