This is not a list of children’s literature books by any profound means, this is a rehashing of my childhood favorites.
This short list of books fits into my life during that very awkward time period, between the ages of ten and fourteen. You know what you like, and mostely who you are, but its almost your job to feel lost and be insearch of every aspect of your soul, your self, that you may not have discovered. For me, that is what books did. Each new spine, new title, new author and genre, either lead me toward perfecting my self image, or let me know what I was not. Books, stories, and reading, can shape someone so severely. Based on who you identify with in those stories, sets the precedent on who you will portray yourself as in your waking life. Are you the strong and ever resilient rebel? Are you the kid with the weird stuffed animal mice? Maybe you’re the one who discovers the librarians dark monstrous secret? Finding yourself in your adolescent reads, can determine a lot for you. For instance, I’m the resilient weirdo who wont admit that I think that the librarian totally does have a monstrous secret. Or perhaps, I wish I were the librarian, keeping those bugs in my drawer, and hoping student wont find out? Who ever you have discovered yourself to be, these seven books are the ones that took me careening down the path of interpersonal inquiry, and always left me with a sense of wonder about the world around me.
In as best a chronological order as I can fathom, the first book on my list is, The Unicorns Secret, by Kathleen Duey. This book made me want to be that girl who found a real unicorn! It kept me striving for that type of magic that was unquestionable until you were old enough to know better. Just after the age of nine, and before you are supposed to be cool like your friends at thirteen, that magic is fast on its fleeting way to forgotten.
The second book, is Daphne’s Book, by Mary Downing Hahn. It isn’t a tale of magic, or adventurous things, its simple a story, about a painfully normal, slightly weird girl, who befriends (after she leans to stop being judgmental) a poor girl, whose house is not as nice as the one she complains about, and who has so little food that her mothers cooking sounds suddenly heavenly. It is an eye opener into your own childhood complaints, especially being the same grade school age as the two girls in this book.
The third book, is The Fairy Rebel, by Lynne Reid Banks, and this one is full to the brim of magic! So much magic that it must have influenced some of my young adult decisions, because after wishing beyond wishing that I had a blue streak in my hair like the girl in this book, who just happens to be a fairy (SPOILER!) I ended up with blue hair myself! I wanted to live in a magical, trinket filled, fairy friendly house, in he woods more than anything after reading this book. I also wished I was a changeling, because finding out you are actually a fairy is the only way to end up with real magic!
The fourth book, is Goosebumps – The Girl Who Cried Monster, by R.L. Stine. This book had to have been one of my most reread tales as a future horror lover at the time. A young girl, who loves visiting the library and telling stories herself, leaves something behind one day and has to return after hours to grab it. This is when she discovers the librarian is slurping down slugs and bugs after closing and he isn’t as human as he seems. This was one of those child like fantasies, where your at your regular library, everything is super normal, but its the kind of quite that you can hear, and your future writer brain is weaving tales of whimsical nonsense, telling you that there is probably a monster just on the other side of that stack! This book made me think, and helped inspire me to write.
The fifth book is, Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce, this book is one of the ones that didn’t only strike me imaginatively, but somewhere deep inside as well. As odd as that may seem, a child having a profound reaction to a book about a girl who could speak to animals because she was magic, is something that I hope a lot of adolescents can experience. When something hits home for you so sincerely that you know you can relate to it on nearly the same level as these other worldly characters, it is almost life changing. For me, I knew that this character who was so close to the earth and animals was everything that was in me, and that was a profound part of who I was wanted to be, was going to be, and already was.
The sixth book, is Lady Cottingtons Fairy Album, by Terry Jones & Brian Froud. There are two of these books, and they helped concrete that need for magic to be real in my heart. Like found footage, this book is a treasure trove of found photographs, handwritten notes, and pesky pressed faeries, found squished between the pages. My imagination ran wild, and I followed the lead and advice of the girls in these books so that I too may find myself among faeries. Among so many books that pointed me toward make believe, this one helped me to keep a grasp on the visual aspects, Brian Froud’s illustrations became one of the more influential aspects on my journey into keeping a firm grasp on the magical parts of life.
Lastly, the seventh book, is Killing Mr. Griffin, by Louis Duncan. If you caught my post about my top five book recommendations, then you’ve heard this title before. This story tappers toward the more adult end of childhood, the part of being a little kid that those teen years haven’t yet tainted. Reading this one, however, made me long for that high school lockers in the hall, flights of stairs, and dreamy maple leave strewn school walk way type of high school experience only found on film. This childhood book had me longing for a perfectly envisioned adult experience as a high school student, which was top tier when you were twelve. It was a transitional phase between still holding firm that grasp on magical childlike wonder, and seeing yourself through down to earth size eyes.
these books helped shape me, even if ever so slightly, even if only in passing, but they are the few that were ingrained so deeply within the memories of my childhood literary experience that I cant help but calling them my favorite.