I don’t know about you all, but my love of reading began at an early age. There are some books that really influenced me and made me passionate about reading and writing, shaping who I am as a reader. Over the years I’ve found myself returning to these books time and time again and I wanted to share them with you all. Here are the books that I loved from childhood up through my tween years.
As a kid my brothers and I had a small library of little golden books, alphabet books, and of course Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and so on. These books were the ones that taught me how to read. My favorite of the bunch is the ever popular Green Eggs and Ham.
The stories are fanciful and unique, Seuss has an art style that is instantly recognizable, and each book was filled to the brim with terrific, tricky tongue twisters that were just plain fun to read that I still enjoy reading even in adulthood. Now that I have kids of my own, these were the books that I made sure were in my daughter’s library to enjoy together. These books are memorable and will always be a cherished childhood favorite.
My love of reading really began when I picked up my first Goosebumps book, Welcome to Dead House. I was in elementary school and was a huge fan of 80s slasher films, my favorite being the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. To say that I loved horror was a severe understatement. I don’t exactly remember how or when I got my first book, but I was instantly hooked and tried to get my hands on every book that I could. I still remember staring in awe at the stacks of Goosebumps books at the book racks when my parents took me to the local super market and wishing I could take the whole lot home.
In all I read maybe ten to fifteen of them throughout my childhood and I still remember many of them fondly. I don’t know how much I’d still enjoy the books now in my adult years, but it’s on my sort of reading bucket list to go back and read a couple of them with my daughter, also a horror fan, once she gets up to reading chapter books. The Goosebumps series really ignored my love of horror fiction which has carried on into the present day. Thank you R.L. Stine for the scares!
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Hands down my absolute favorite book from my childhood that I’ve read countless times. It’s one of the few books that I make a point to re-read regularly whenever I am in a sort of reading slump. Each time I’ve read it I’ve gotten something different out of it. My first time reading it I only saw the adventure part of the story as Karana had to fight off wild animals. In my middle grade years, I understood more of the survival aspect of the story as Karana learned how to hunt, manage resources, make weapons, and maintain shelter. As an adult, I was hit with Karana’s emotional struggle and finally understood her feelings of loneliness and isolation. It is a timeless classic that I will always keep close to my heart.
This book was originally gifted to me from a friend as a going away present. I honestly don’t even remember her name, we had only recently met and had hung out maybe twice so I didn’t know her all that well other than that she really liked dolphins. I was surprised when she presented me with the book on my last day in the neighborhood before moving away. She had told me it was her favorite book, and damned am I forever thankful to her for her kindness. I still have that little pink paperback novel tucked away somewhere even though the binding has deteriorated after years of readings. I got a nicer illustrated hardcover edition that I keep safely on my shelf both for display but also for reading. Even so, I still treasure the original copy I was gifted as it is the one book that I carried with me through my entire life, through all of the good and the bad.
The Vampire Chronicles
So this is cheating a little bit, but for this entry it’s less of a single book but instead an entire series that I adored. I read my first Rice novel, The Vampire Armand some time in middle school. I was completely absorbed in the novel and scraped wherever I could to pick up another book from the series. I loved the blend of gothic themes with richly detailed historical settings. It is Rice’s work that really sparked my interest in history, which I might add, is the field I ended up pursuing my bachelor’s degree in.
The best part was that I wasn’t the only one that was crazy about Anne Rice books either, my two best friends were equally in love with her writing. The three of us exchanged books and discussed them together over years of friendship. We had each created our own characters and separate universe and began writing, with our shared characters making appearances in each other’s stories. I still have a love for writing because of this experience. Having close friends to share our admiration of the series I think really helped make the experience especially memorable.
To date I’ve read most of the books in the series and have stemmed into some of Rice’s other novels, but none of them captivated me quite like the Vampire Chronicles did. Though I haven’t been as into Anne Rice’s writing in recent years I’ll always appreciate her work as they really shaped my adolescence and kept me grounded during difficult times. I still have all those little mass market paperbacks I saved up for stowed away, it’s hard for me to let them go.
Ah Harry Potter, the series that I’m sure is on a lot of people’s lists. Even the friends that I have that aren’t very big book readers have read at least one Harry Potter book at some point in time. Those that don’t read at all have usually seen the movies. The Potter franchise is pretty wide spread and I honestly believe that the Harry Potter books are a modern children’s classic and will last for a long time.
Admittedly, as a thirteen year old I had absolutely zero interest in Harry Potter. My best friend Sam was a huge fan and had tried to get me into the series around the time that The Goblet of Fire was published. I was pretty wrapped up in my vampires and thought I was too cool for a children’s series about wizards. A year later I was invited by the same friend to go and see the first movie in theater’s on release day and damned if I didn’t ask my friend if I could borrow the first book as soon as the credits began to roll. She got me! *shakes fist*
Maybe it’s because I had the chance to grow up with the books that they stayed with me for so long. In each book Harry is a year older and the focus of his problems changed, just as mine changed. The series might not be for everybody, but it sure was for me.
Also I’m a Ravenclaw. Just thought I’d put that out there. RAVENCLAW REPRESENT!
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