How Childhood Books Make Us Who We Are

Books GeekMom

Children’s inner lives may not seem all that complicated. But they are, even if kids may not fully be fully aware of the complexities they’re dealing with until they’re much older. That’s one reason it’s hard for them to talk with their parents about ways they are gaining strength, inspiration, and a strong sense of self.

Their favorite books offer a clue.

Kids are drawn to stories that resonate with challenges they’re facing. Authors know that kids seek out tales that present certain compelling themes. Speaking one’s truth, overcoming adversity, enduring tragedy, relying on wit or cleverness, making a sacrifice, finding a kindred spirit, gaining new powers or knowledge—this is the stuff that translates into purposeful meaning for the young reader.

To understand what our kids are going through as they grow up, it helps to look back at the pivotal books that made a difference during our own formative years. We here at GeekMom have been discussing exactly that.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I (Laura) am everlastingly grateful for The Secret Garden.

It provided solace at a time when none of the well-meaning adults in my life could ease my fears. After several deaths in the family I asked questions about the beginning of the universe, the reasons for existence, and the purpose of death. But the limited answers I was given only fueled my angst. I wasn’t aware why The Secret Garden was such a comfort. I only knew that reading and rereading certain passages helped ease my childhood insomnia.

It wasn’t until years later when I flipped through the pages of my old copy of The Secret Garden that I understood. I was surprised by what else I found in those pages. This book is connected in so many ways to the life choices I’ve made. As I wrote in a recent article, I’m convinced this book saved me.

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

No. I don’t think I had the words to express how profoundly the book restored something that seemed lost to me. I’m not sure I do now either.


Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander

Ellen says that she read this series over and over, starting when she was 11 or 12 years old. She notes,

“While I didn’t realize it at the time, these books had a profound influence on me. Particularly the bit about how Taran, our hero, is galled by his lowly title of Assistant Pig-Keeper. As a nerdy little overachiever, I was galled by it, too, on Taran’s behalf. He was always doing heroic and brave things — sometimes ineptly, sure, but he was a kid. And I wanted to see him get rewarded for his deeds — I wanted to see him elevated to greater status. That doesn’t happen until the very end of the series, and by that time, it’s obvious that glory comes with heavy responsibility.

That’s the lesson, or part of it, and it has affected my viewpoint on life ever since, reminding me of the value of humility and the fact that the value of a person exists apart from the sum of his/her accomplishments.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“I don’t recall discussing this particular lesson with my parents — mostly because I didn’t exactly realize I was learning it at the time. I do remember getting so upset by the death of a major character that I had to wake my mother in the middle of the night (I was up late reading under the covers, of course) to help me deal with my overwrought emotions. That’s another lesson I learned from the books — the emotional impact fiction can have — and it certainly pushed me along the path to becoming a fiction writer myself.”


The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs

Amy is so fond of this book that she says,” Whenever I see that book, even now, I want to hug it to my chest. I can’t wait to read it with my kids when they’re old enough.”  She explains,

“The story follows a boy named Lewis Barnavelt who goes to live with his uncle, who he discovers is a wizard (long before Harry Potter, which I would have loved as a kid). I think my close connection with this book came because of seeing Lewis as a pudgy, misfit kindred spirit. I could relate to him trying to find connections with new people, and wanting to try his hand at something powerful, like magic spells.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“I don’t remember doing so, but I now talk about it often with other parents, especially when talking about books in the Harry Potter genre.”


A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Delphine, who describes herself as “mostly built on books,” says,

“This book is the reason I grew up seeing myself as a princess, and still do, in a way. Not a silly-pink princess. But not necessarily a kick-ass princess, either. I learned that being a princess was mostly a question of moral dignity, the way you act, the way you treat other people, the way you fight and endure, the way you keep your head held high.

That’s what I tried to do, since then.

That’s not easy. Even if you succeed, not every person likes it. Some think you’re too perfectly civilized to be true and dislike you for that reason. Some are intimidated. But that happens a lot to Sara, the young heroine of the book, too, so I could understand and go on using her as a guideline.

Little Princess is a book from the 19th century. I don’t believe 19th century’s children books’ values are all good and accurate for our time. Of course not ! But some are. Smiling to people in the streets, helping them if you have the chance, being generous and kind when you can, apologizing when the anger wins you over (for it will happen, of course). And don’t forget to be proud of yourself sometimes, if you succeed, for you’re a princess, after all.

The other reason why I loved and still love this book is the role it gives to stories. Stories from books or stories from your imagination. Stories read, or read aloud, or told to little ones. All stories are magic. And they are a real comfort when everything else fails you, as it happens for Sara.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“I tried to tell about that to my mother, as a tween or teen. That wasn’t a success. Perhaps I wasn’t able to explain, perhaps my (wonderful) mother isn’t this type of person, isn’t Sara-type as much as I am.”


The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel

The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant

Rebecca says she read these two books when she was fourteen and they shaped who she is today. Both were given to her by adults in her family. She explains,

“My dad gave me Clan of the Cave Bear telling me woman kick ass. Although I think I was too young to read that rape scene (though what age would it be OK?), it was the herbs and healing aspect of the book that really pulled something up from inside of me and created a passion I still have to this day. To be fair to my parents, they both are very healthy and raised my sister and I to read labels, take vitamins, and avoid artificial anything. We were the only kids on the block that didn’t have Fruit Loops and Oreos in the cupboard, and I’ve been taking flax oil years before it was hip. But after reading Clan, I started reading non-fiction books about natural healing and herbal medicine. When I became pregnant and a mom at a young age (only a few years after reading that book) I made a commitment to have a natural pregnancy and raise my child with wise woman healing. My family to this day uses 99% natural remedies, especially essential oils, for any sickness and general health. My daughter is now making her own beauty products from all natural ingredients. Yet, I have not given her Clan of the Cave Bear yet. That rape scene still haunts me.

The book that is on my daughter’s reading list (she is fifteen, btw) is The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You. My Aunt Maryanne gave me this book, along with others like it. She and my Uncle Gary (now deceased) have been my spiritual guides from a very young age. I was raised Catholic, and still practice today, but my mind is permanently open from the readings and discussions of theology, spirituality and the soul with my Aunt and Uncle throughout my life. This particular book stood out because it is fiction. I remember sitting on my bed when I finished reading about someone’s incredible spiritual journey that involved dreams (something I have always been obsessive about) and then looking at the cover and seeing the author. A woman. Not a man. The main character was a guy. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t a memoir. How could a fake story affect me so deeply? And that’s when I got the point of the book. Fiction and non-fiction, dreaming and waking…is there that much of a difference? It’s what you take and make of what comes your way that makes you who are are, and your destiny. Stories are powerful, regardless if they came from a true experience or someone’s imagination. After that book, I don’t think my own border between reality and dream has ever closed. Everything just is.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“Clan of the Cave Bear was discussed a lot in the next few years with several people in my family because it was a popular book (and the whole series was a family favorite.) They all thought it was cool that I got into plants. My aunt and I chatted briefly about The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You, but I wasn’t really good on discussions that mattered at that age. But I did tell her I liked the book when I gave it back to her.”


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Alexandra remembers reading this book back in ninth grade. It became her favorite. She writes,

“The character, Francie, was a strong girl growing up in Williamsburg Brooklyn in the years before WWI. Loss of innocence, rebellion, perseverance, and hope were all themes I could relate to. Although I was growing up in a much different time and setting, my life was chaotic and uncertain (my mother was diagnosed with cancer and our family was falling apart). The book resonated with me. It was a great story and I was sad when it was over. Besides, I  love trees. The tree as a symbol and as a living character has stayed with me my whole life.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“I think I told my mother that I loved the book. She grew up in Queens NYC in the 30s and may have read the book as a young adult (it was published in 1943). As I mentioned my mother was ill and my teen years were defined by that. I know I told my English teacher that it was my favorite book, and I think she gave me a copy as a gift–I seem to remember that. I excelled in English and writing in HS  (I was awarded the award for creative writing at graduation) and I know the book influenced my love for the written word.”


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Andrea offers two books she regards as “game changing.”  She says she discovered A Wrinkle in Time in fifth grade.

“I loved the character Meg and found it really empowering to read about a character in glasses who was insecure but with hidden brilliant depths. Go figure. I was the oldest child in my family so maybe I liked that about Calvin, too.

In 9th grade, I discovered Wuthering Heights. Oh my! Probably set me up for a couple of really dysfunctional relationships before I realized that Heathcliff was not actually the ideal man. Also set me up for a lifetime love affair with gothic novels and Victorian literature.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“I didn’t tell my parents. They just expected me to read and be a good student. I don’t remembering them ever being too interested in what I was reading.”


The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley

Corrina started reading the Black Stallion series when she was in second grade. She writes,

“I read The Black Stallion over and over to the point where I nearly read the cover off. Then I
discovered the rest of the series and my all-time favorite was The Black Stallion’s Filly because it was about a filly, Black Minx, that won the Kentucky Derby. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was resentful of the fact only boys seemed to be allowed or encouraged to be interested in sports. To read about a girl–even though it was a horse–accomplish something that everyone said couldn’t be done was empowering to me. It gave me hope for the future that even though I was a tomboy, I could do whatever I wanted.

Just last year, I needed a name for the hero of my superhero story and I went back to these books. I came up with Alec Farley, a mix of Alec Ramsey, the hero of the Black Stallion books, and Walter Farley. I re-read the stories as well and I still got that thrill when Black Minx wins.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“My parents knew and encouraged my love of reading, though horses were a slightly different matter. (Riding lessons cost.) But whenever I wanted books or needed quiet time to right, my parents were always very supportive. To this day, I still have a tapestry that my late father bought for me of three horses, nose to nose, at the end of the race. It meant so much that he acknowledged what I loved.”

The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary

Patricia is somewhat reluctant to disclose the most memorable book from her preteen years. But she warms to the topic.

“Even though it was written in the 50s, it’s a pretty timeless story of a girl trying to rebel against her mother. She gets the chance for a clean start at a new school. I remember the slicker argument Shelley has with her mother. Shelley, the protagonist, wants to wear a plain yellow slicker to school, but her mother gets her this prissy pink raincoat with black velvet buttons. Shelley gets mad and tosses a bouquet of roses down the garbage disposal — apparently a 1950s girl’s ULTIMATE rebellious act– and declares she wants to spend the school year in California, which she was invited to do by a family friend.

It’s a touching first-love kind of story, but with no kissing or sex or anything. Anyway, I distinctly remember thinking ‘Hey — this 1950s girl rebelled, so could I…’

I love the book and now I want to read it over again.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“No, I don’t think I did. I don’t remember discussing any books with my parents.”


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Kalynn read Little Women annually from age eight. She says it molded her self-identity as well as her my understanding of the world. She writes,

“The main character, Jo March, was acutely aware of both her close relationships and the historical events that buffeted her family. The combination of breadth and depth in this particular work of auto-biographical fiction has been a touchstone ever since.

I identified with Jo’s hot temper and her gangly body. One way I have been profoundly influenced by this character is the way Jo made life decisions that went against expectation. Her best friend, the boy next door who was attractive, kind, and wealthy, wanted to marry her. Even though all external signs, and even her own affection for the boy (who by that time a young man), pointed to a happy and prosperous union, she refused his offer. Instinctively, she knew she did not love him in that way and that she was meant to forge a less secure, different path. On more than one occasion in my life, I have followed Jo’s example. Rather than automatically making the more secure, on-the-surface easier choice, I have listened to my heart.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“I don’t remember ever talking to anyone about how much that book meant to me, although I did mount a theatrical adaptation of the story in a friend’s backyard (5th grade, as I recall) and charged a nominal admission for neighborhood kids to watch me play Jo. A handful of people knew about that, including the kids in the audience, and I referred to it in my film school application as my first writer/director/producer gig.”


The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis

R. L. LaFevers says that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe started her on the series of books that most influenced her as a child. She explains,

“It was my first exposure to fantasy and for the first time I realized that books could deal with more than what was real; that the world of books could match the wildness and longing of my imagination. I had devoured fairy tales and myths as a young reader, but the Narnia books were the first time I learned that stories didn’t have to be old or passed down through the ages in order to have fantasy elements. This completely validated my wild and crazy imagination, which had gotten me in a fair amount of trouble so far. But even more importantly, as a kid the world around me seemed much more layered and frightening and wonderful than any of the adults around me would admit to, and The Chronicles of Narnia spoke to all those layers of reality that were so present for me.

When I closed the last page of the last book, I hugged it to my chest and thought how wonderful it would be, to grow up and have a job where I got to make up new worlds and systems of magic for a living. And now I do. ”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“It never occurred to me to talk to anyone about how much that book meant to me, although they probably guessed since I reread them twice a year for about four years. But it was too important to me, too precious to risk having the adults in my life ruin it with their lack of understanding. So I kept mum.”


The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Natania says it was all about discovering hobbits. She writes,

“Most people started the Lord of the Rings at the beginning. But, seeing as the library didn’t have The Fellowship of the Rings, I figured there was no harm starting with The Two Towers. I was fourteen, I think, and this was oddly after I’d read lots of very grown up things, like the majority of Stephen King’s oeuvre. But hobbits, indeed, and Merry and Pippin, especially, considering they are the first hobbits to appear in The Two Towers. I read every scene they were in with bated breath.

I had a tough childhood (who doesn’t, I guess) dealing with illness and a family always struggling to make ends meet. I often felt as if the kids around me didn’t understand that sort of trial, having grown up in a very privileged area. But the inherent merriment in hobbits, the youthful optimism, the camaraderie… for me, Merry and Pippin (and to some extent the rest of the Fellowship) really were surrogate friends in a world where I felt as if I didn’t fit. More importantly, those hobbits went on to do amazing things in spite of a world that didn’t expect it of them (neither locally nor globally you might say!), and I took that to heart. Sometimes high school felt like my own personal trip to Mordor. But I made it. And now I live a very hobbity existence with my husband, son, animals, books… but always writing my adventures into the margins.”

Did I tell the adults in my life what the book meant to me?

“Oh, I tried. But my parents didn’t read. Or at least, they hadn’t read fiction for so long (in the case of my dad; to my knowledge, my mother never read fiction) that it fell on deaf ears. I sat in my room for hours putting Tolkien’s poems to music, I wrote the continuing story of Merry and Pippin. Sometimes I think I wanted that story to be real so much that I purposefully kept it to myself. There is something remarkably powerful about a private joy. Later, I branched out into the community that grew around the films and whatnot, but in my early teens, Middle Earth was very much my own place. And I was definitely reluctant to let others in. I remember a friend casually telling me he’d read the books and didn’t think they were anywhere near as good as Robert Jordan, and I felt very furious indeed that one could say such terrible things about Tolkien’s Middle Earth! Clearly, he’d missed something.”


What books made you who you are today? Did you share any of that book-related inner growth with the adults in your life? And does looking back at these influences give you a glimpse of your own child’s complex emerging selfhood?

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28 thoughts on “How Childhood Books Make Us Who We Are

  1. I devoured Piers Anthony in middle and high school.
    Almost all of the books featured a misplaced “hero”; a protagonist that didn’t fit in, or just wanted to be normal, or was in way over his/her head.

    This article has made me think back to those books and a lot of other books I read and realize that I was looking at a reflection of myself. A geeky/nerdy kid with low self esteem and few friends, an underachiever, and a recluse, just yearning for a chance to prove that I was normal, or I could accomplish something BIG.

    1. I was a big Piers Anthony fan at that time of my life too. I never got into his Xanth series, but absolutely loved the Incarnations of Immortality (haven’t read the eighth book yet though). Still have those old paper backs in a box somewhere.

        1. Laura, best to start with the Xanth books as they are the most child and young adult friendly – the Incarnations of Immortality series is probably okay for teens, but there are adult scenes in most of Piers Anthony’s other books, which I wouldn’t let kids read unless I knew they could handle it – “read first” is probably my best advice!

    2. A friend of mine bought me a book right in the middle of the Xanth series as a birthday present in 7th grade saying she thought I might like “things with wings.” Up to that point I had only read some sci-fi stuff my dad gave me. After that Xanth book, I went back and started at the beginning of the series, and began my love of fantasy novels that continues to this day.

  2. One of the fun/interesting things is to see how… close we are. I don’t know about you, but many books the other GeekMoms chose also are books I loved as a child (and still do). Prydain, Narnia, Little Women, and of course Tolkien…

    1. Me too. And I kept finding ways that my life corresponded to these books even if my Hobbit-y ways and enchanted wardrobe experiences weren’t exactly like those on the pages.

  3. Yes, if I had second choices, I’d have picked Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and I loved the Prydain books as well.

    I never quite read Piers Anthony. At the time, I think I was so intimidated by the sheer numbers of the books! I did read lots of Anne McCaffrey and Roger Zelazny.

  4. As a librarian, I’m thankful for this post. It amazes me how little leisure reading for kids is valued these days. It makes me really happy to see these GeekMoms embracing it! Diana Wynne Jones’s “Charmed Life” got me through some tough times when I was in elementary school.

    1. I agree Britta. Too much rushing around and too many distractions in kids’ lives. While I’m sure kids draw strength and inspiration from many other formative experiences, what books offer is unique.

      The tack I took with my kids when they were younger was a book-flexible bedtime. They had to be in bed by a certain time, but could cajole for an extra half-hour of bedside light if they just “had” to keep reading. It made reading positive on their terms. Of course I didn’t always check to see that their lights were out within the alloted half hour and they had the delicious sense of getting away with something—-reading.

      1. One of our daughters is a compulsive bedtime reader – her favourite comeback to “lights out” is “just gotta finish this chapter, dad” – 1 hour later still reading – wow, that sure is a long chapter!

        On the subject of bedtime reading, I remember how ripped off I felt as an 8 year old kid when I discovered that my eldest sister would always read by the light of the landing, whenever we were told it was lights out. I never looked back after that – maybe that’s where my daughter gets it from.

  5. I remember reading John Bellairs in sixth grade and it seriously creeped me out. And then I kept reading others, like The Curse of the Blue Figurine.

    But the set of books that really shaped me the most was my set of Childcraft books. Those I read almost cover to cover (except the one about People & Places) and even now I still refer to things I learned from Childcraft.

    1. You’re kids will be amused by the concept of encyclopedic books. Mine are.

      Our library had a huge series of biographies written for kids. I read across the whole row, learning about W.T. Sherman and Alexander Hamilton and all sorts of people I had no real interest in, gradually seeing that great people emerged from often very troubled childhoods. That gave me hope.

    2. I read John Bellairs as well, and last year while visiting my parents I found “A Face in the Frost” on my Mom’s bookcase. She teaches Middle Grades Education, and it just happened to be one of the books she held onto… for 25 years.
      I stole it back.

  6. From the moment I learned to read I read everything I could get my hands on, tending to go to the adult section well before librarians were comfortable with me doing so. That said, I don’t remember particular books having much of a life-changing effect on me, with the possible exception of Margaret Atwood’s Lady Oracle. As a fat kid, I was heartened by the idea that change was possible. Other books touched me at other times — for example, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was my pre-pubescent friend, because Margaret was among the last of her friends to get her period too.

    1. Isn’t it ironic that Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret has been banned repeatedly over the years?

      And despite being a fan of Atwood’s books, I never ran across Lady Oracle. Another library request! Thanks Kim.

  7. “Les Trois Mousquetaires” and “Vingt ans après” A. Dumas

    I had trouble when choosing, because there were so many books that meant so much to me as a child. I reread and reread and reread many of them and I had “lift me up” books and “give me an escape from my life ” books and “I want to go there instead of my home” books and “I love this language here, it floats me”-books etc

    But if I think about shaping my life, then yes, “Les Trois Mousquetaires” and” 20 ans après” are the ones.
    Those were the books that gave me most of my values:

    valor – cowardice is the basic sin and haunts mostly the coward itself. How can you live happy life, if you don’t dare to watch yourself into the eye?
    joy of life – even when times are hard, enjoy what you have!
    generosity – give without asking anything back. If you have something great, always share!
    When you are in need, people will come and share with you their gifts freely and happily, and growing love between you makes everything even better.
    optimism: everything is doable, if you try hard enough.

    Plus – I was madly in love with Athos, d’Artagnan AND Aramis, all of them. I liked Porthos well enough but he was too much of comical character for that liking becoming romantic – and I read “Vikont Bragelonne” only many years later.

    I also fell in love with de Rochefort and de Wardes and I liked Milady. So the story gave me some truly great advice: you can fight someone and still like him/her.
    You may not agree with someones methods or decisions or deeds, but that is no reason to hate them, that is only a reason to stand your own ground firmly.
    And even when there is hate involved, one should always fight honourably, so that her enemy and she herself could respect her futher.
    Winning is not the most important. Self-respect is.

    I haven’t read those books at least 6 years now. But I still remember paragraphs by heart.
    I don’t have to spell-chek de Jussac or de Chevreuse or Bonacieux. I still tell to myself, when there are hard times coming “You do know the word “must”? You can do a lot with that!” (translated liberally from estonian version of “Vingt ans après”)
    I still believe that friendship is something to value and care above many many things.
    And I still find the most romantic moments in books and movies being those that show us the force of platonic friendships – not those, that deal with felling in love or expressing it.

    I have discussed this book a lot with my mother (she loves it too), yet I never told her how deeply it affacted me. Maybe I did not know myself before answering this question right now.

    I mean, there has been SO MANY books. My love for them was (and still is) rather rabid.

    1. If your love is rabid, I wish that love of books were as infectious.

      What an interesting exercise to specifically list the values a book gives us. I did something similar once with a group of high school students who were taking a non-violence course I taught. I had them talk about their favorite song and what the lyrics taught them.

  8. Love love love love love!

    This is probably the biggest reason that I’ve devoted my life to books for young people (children AND YA– YA is usually lumped in with “children’s literature” but I hate that, because there’s such a difference– but I love them both so I usually end up saying “for young people”). People read when they’re adults, and they LOVE books as adults, but NO book love compares to that experience of finding that One Perfect Book when you’re ten, the book that makes everything clear, that changes your life forever after. Adults love books, but young people LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVE books. To this day MOST of my favorite books are ones I first read as a child (and have read so very many times since). And my number one book is still THAT BOOK from when I was ten (A Wrinkle in Time, also– I wrote all about what it meant to me in my own blog just recently, actually: ).

    And I did share it with my parents. My mother had long often quoted her old children’s literature professor: “A good children’s book is a good book,” and she read aloud with us long after we could read on our own, so I knew she appreciated the books I was reading. When I found a particularly good one (Wrinkle for example), I would ALWAYS tell her she HAD to read it. I was so obviously the world’s most serious bookworm that even if I HADN’T outright told them about my favorite books, they would have certainly picked up on it. I’d always get books for birthdays and Christmas and Easter, and they were always books I would be interested in, and my parents were open about it– I got the latest Babysitters Club titles and I got the classics and I got recent Newbery winners. Books were very much my life. Still are, except occasionally I have to act like a grownup and, you know, FEED PEOPLE and clean the house every so often, occasionally.

    1. Just tried to comment on your blog post, but my identity was invalid. sigh Nonetheless, enjoyed the post. And from it I got another title to order from the library, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book. Thanks.

  9. I have 2 boys, one nearly 2 and a half and the other just 2 months old but I’m already starting to seek out the books that my dad read to my brother and I as children. Most of them are standards – The Hobbit and Watership Down were favourites, but then there are some older books that I guess he was read as a child that he read to us, like Prince Priggio by Alan Lang (which I managed to get for free on the Kindle) and The Log of The Ark by Kenneth Walker and Geoffrey Boumphrey.
    When my dad visited last weekend I quizzed him on bedtime books. I was sure he read most of the books to us many times but I couldn’t see how that would fit into the few years of bedtime reading. He wasn’t sure, but he rememberd a couple more books that he had read to us, The Turnings of the Shrew and its sequel by Charles Easam-Carter.
    I started reading bedtime stories to my 2 yr old when he was very young but fell out of the habit as he showed more interest in just knocking the book out of my hands. Out of the blue a couple of months ago at bedtime he started saying “book” so I started reading to him again. He already has firm favourites – The Gruffalo and Little Mouse Gets Ready being two of them.
    I hope this will instill in him the love of books and reading that I had as a child and carried into my adult life.

  10. I didn’t realize the influence that Beverly Clearly’s Ramona books had on me until I started reading them to my daughter. (This is a little embarrassing.) I honestly thought that some of the events in that series happened to me! Thinking carefully about it, I realize that we never built an addition onto our house, so that couldn’t have happened. I may have grown fruit flies in blue oatmeal but it is unlikely. And despite many very real bad hair cuts, that memory I have of driving in the rain to the beauty school? That was Ramona & Beezus, not me. The writing in those books is so vivid (and I read them so many times) that they infiltrated my memories!

    I devoured books as a kid. I read very fast and tried to read as much as possible. But I think the first book that consumed ME – that knocked me off my feet and made me revel in its glory – was Johnny Tremain. My 5th grade teacher read it to us and then put it in the “prize box” (from which a perfect test score would earn us the right to select an item) and no one ever studied so hard for the next spelling test as I did. I read it over and over and over again. I begged everyone I knew to read it (including my parents, who did) and I read it to my younger sisters. When it was assigned reading in 8th grade I could write lengthy essays without even re-reading (though I did anyway).

    Anna to the Infinite Power was the first sci-fi, futuristic, book that I read. I think I read it in 4th grade. It influenced my life-long love of near-future dystopia stories.

    Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy was very important to me in middle school. Its one I still go back to whenever I need a “comfort read”.

    And Leon Uris’s Trinity, which I also read in middle school, made me realize the joy of very long books and influenced my skepticism about books under 500 pages.

  11. I adore this post – for me, it was “Ender’s Game,” read in 5th grade, and “Anne of Green Gables,” which I read around the same time.

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