This week I’m linking up with the good people of The Broke and the Bookish, which hosts a weekly top ten list about books. This week’s theme: top ten childhood favorites.
Well, holy buckets. Who could pick just ten? I chose not to include beloved series The Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Valley Twins, The Saddle Club, or the Fantastic Five , although even as I mention them I think, “Oooh! The Saddle Club!” Sorry, Stevie and Lisa and Carol (and Stacy and Claudia and Kristy and the rest). There’s just not room for everyone on this list.
I also wanted to include some true children’s books, which to me means picture books / non-chapter books. So, the list is approximately chronological. I would still pick up any of these books in a heartbeat. They are beloved, and I recommend them all.
But No Elephants by Jerry Smath The book I made my parents read to me until they were screaming, “But NO ELEPHANTS!” right along with Grandma Tildy. It is now one of Zoe’s favorite books, too, and I love reading it to her.
A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban I love all the Frances books (Bread and Jam for Frances was a close second for this spot), but I loved this one the most. Lies and betrayal and a real china tea set. What in the world is not to love?
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain I loved all the Berenstain Bear books, especially this one. Mostly because I was fascinated by all the ways Brother and Sister found to earn money, and thought maybe I would try some myself. (ProTip: that is not actually the lesson you are supposed to learn from this book.) I wonder if selling wild flowers and honeycomb is a viable second career option today.
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat Oh, the memories I have of reading the Nate the Great books in the children’s room at the Wilmette Public Library. Oh, that rainbow circle rug. Oh, the pancakes Nate the Great would eat. And, you know, the mysteries he solved were good, too.
Billy and Blaze: a Boy and His Horse by C. W. Anderson Another library love. I remember making a beeline for these books at my elementary school library whenever my class visited. I wanted to be Billy (or maybe Billy’s really great sister, since I don’t really remember a thing about Billy himself), and I wanted to live in those beautiful pictures with that beautiful Blaze.
King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry As you might have guessed, I was really, really into horses as a child. I mean, really. I took riding lessons, went to horse camp, collected Breyer horses, and read all kinds of horsey books. My very, very favorite was King of the Wind. Its exotic setting, underdog characters, and pretty pictures held me spellbound.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder It’s hard to pick a favorite book in this beloved series, but for a true “childhood” favorite, I think it’s the first one. Christmas! Sugar snow! Susan the corncob doll and Charlotte the rag doll! Playing with the pig bladder balloon and eating the crispy pig tail! I have been a vegetarian for twenty years, but I still think both those things sound awesome.
The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye A brown-haired princess with animal friends and forest adventures? Was this book custom written for me or what? Don’t listen to the Amazon reviewers who complain that this book is predictable, or that Amy’s adventures are not very adventurous, or that a really feminist fairy tale shouldn’t end with marriage (spoiler). I bet I read The Ordinary Princess fifty times and loved every single one.
Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry “When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king.” Why, yes, that is the opening sentence of this book. I think I helped start a middle school girls book group in college just so that I could make a new generation of eleven and twelve-year-old girls read this book. Witchcraft, medieval Scotland, a beached whale, actual cloaks and daggers, a clove to soothe your tooth ache. Read it immediately.
The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher This might be the first science fiction I ever read. I know technically I should pick one book from the trilogy, but come on. They are a boxed set (probably). And if the tripods ever do come, I need the knowledge from all three books in order to defeat them.
Your turn! What are some of your childhood favorites?