Friday Fun – Favorite reads from childhood

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: What did you enjoy reading as a kid? Was it the comics in the Sunday paper? Pop-up books? Hardcovered? Floppy covered? What leaps to mind as a fun read when you were a wee little lad or lass?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: Funny – the first thing that comes to mind is Sunday comics but only if I had Silly Putty so I could transfer some of the images onto the funky dough and them stretch it and play with it. For some reason that still makes me giggle. I particularly liked Garfield and can remember being able to make him shorter and fatter and giving him funny expressions when I had the Silly Putty. Second thing that springs to mind is comic books. I really enjoyed the small paperback stories with all the pictures. I had a super-hero spurt and enjoyed reading about all the individuals who each had a unique power. I think it went a long way to letting me know it was okay to not be part of the ‘in’ crowd. Fun question!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: When I was 11 I was placed in an accelerated readers group at school, and we had to read Pride and Prejudice, which I hated: I told my mom it was about a woman and her four daughters and all they cared about was getting married–boring! We also had to read Jane Eyre, which I loved! I’ve read it many times over the years and it’s still one of my favorites. I’ve also reread Pride and Prejudice with a more mature outlook and found it’s not boring at all. Fascinating, in fact. Other favorites from my childhood are Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, The Good Master, by Kate Seredy, and all the Nancy Drew books. I used to read all my brothers sci-fi/fantasy books, such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and basically anything that anyone left lying around.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Like Diane, I got placed in an accelerated reading program called Jr. Great Books when I was young. It gave me an appreciation for the classics at a very early age (which is is one of the reasons why I think I was *the* only person in my High School class who truly enjoyed The Scarlet Letter.) When I think about my favorite books that I liked as a young child, there are many – Sad, Mrs. Sam Sack – the story of a woman who thought her house was too small and how she finally learned to appreciate the space that she had. The Little Mailman of Bayberry Lane – a charming animal story with a wonderful surprise ending and The Happy Birthday Present where a boy makes the most beautiful gift for his mother.

When I got a little older, Misty of Chincoteague  was the first of the many horse books I read. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang, Bambi, The Shoe Shop Bears. Rascal, and Born Free (hmm, look at those early nature memoirs) were some of the other books that also held magic for me within their covers. Like it is today, when I was a kid, you’d never find me without a book in my hands or one waiting for me in my backpack. While in school, I worked, was on school sports, and participated in school Government, but somehow, I still always found time to read.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I loved (and still love) series. I read Nancy Drew, and some Hardy Boys. I loved books by Beverly Cleary, and the Encyclopedia Brown books. And I remember some books, but not the names. I remember a series about kids who lived in a bus or a train? And Harriet the Spy, of course. Roald Dahl. And Archie comics. I am thrilled that I am moderating a panel on YA literature at the New England Crime Bake this fall. Should be a great opportunity to discover new books, and make some recommendations to the young readers in my life.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: What I remember most about reading as a kid is the sheer volume of books I consumed. Each week, my mom would bring my sister and I to our public library, a venerable old building with ivy climbing the walls and an ornate wrought iron gate at the door to the children’s room. From the very first, I loved the smell of the books and the experience of pawing through them one at a time, shelf after shelf. Mostly, I read fantasy and science fiction. JRR Tolkien was an instant favorite (I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time when I was in third grade), as was Peter S. Beagle (I must have read The Last Unicorn a dozen times). I read every book Anne McCaffrey wrote in her extensive Pern series. I read L. Frank Baum, Roald Dahl, and Shel Silverstein. I read The Wind in the Willows, Misty of Chincoteague, Julie of the Wolves, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. I read Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books and Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series. I read E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet Swan. I read George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square and Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Each week, I came home with a huge LL Bean tote bag filled to the top with new adventures. My appetite was insatiable, my thirst for story unquenchable. I miss those long days of doing nothing but reading. I do not know if I have ever come closer to bliss.


photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin: Oh, so many books! I was a lonely kid, so the characters in books were my best friends, starting with Are You My Mother, to Charlotte’s Web, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Doctor Doolittle, Beverly Clearly books, The Borrowers, Nancy Drew. And then came the Victorians: Arthur Conan-Doyle, Charles Dickens, Charolotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen. As I teen, I read all of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries, and Regency Romances, historical fiction, anything steamy I could get hold of. I miss those days of reading all day and long into the night!

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16 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Favorite reads from childhood

  1. My mother was an avid reader and passed that love on to me. And while she stocked my bookshelves with all the classics like Nancy Drew and Charlotte’s Web, I always wanted to read books from her massive bookshelves because I wanted to be just like her.

    So, at 8 years old I cracked open the first book I picked off her shelf. It was Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Needless to say I was both horrified and yet fascinated and I tackled The Green Mile at 10 (I was an odd kid, what can I say). Well my mother knew nothing about this until my teacher called her one day very concerned, saying that I needed to stop disturbing the other children by reading these books to them at recess.

    This is probably my favorite childhood reading memory just because it still gives my parents a laugh to this day 🙂

  2. Pingback: Friday Fun – Favorite reads from childhood | PASO A LA UTOPÍA

  3. Fun post! My favorite book from childhood is “Charlotte’s Web” I couldn’t get enough of The Babysitter’s Club series. I loved Roald Dahl, especially “The BFG.” I distinctly remember reading, “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret” and it was my first reading experience where I discovered that books could be so much more than just entertainment.

    I love to reread books from childhood and have a small collection of children’s books on my bookshelf. I also like to go back and read the classic stories that I didn’t read when I was younger, like “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

  4. I remember reading Herge comic books in our Volkswagen camper. The back seat was littered with them in various stages of disrepair. My mother remembers fondly the days when it was her turn to do the “school run” (that is, the pick-up from school on days the local bus wasn’t available). She could see the top of half a dozen tousled heads in her rear view mirror, buried nose deep in the adventures of TinTin, and silence reigned supreme.

  5. I used to read anything and everything (I still do)- my all time favourites were the Anne of Green Gables books though (Gilbert Blythe was my first ever crush when they televised it!) Such happy memories, only surpassed by seeing my own 7 year old daughter grow to love books as much as her mummy, and seeing her face as she discovers for herself these treasures. She is quite an old-fashioned little soul and prefers the old classics to modern children’s books; she is currently reading (and absolutely loving) ‘What Katy Did’ 🙂

  6. I was also a bit of a loaner and The characters in the Baby-Sitters Club became my best friends in the 6th grade. I had four books delivered each month and I always finished them before the next batch arrived. I anxiously waited for my books to arrive in the mail. I read one a few weeks ago and it almost made me want to cry!!

  7. Love hearing about everyone’s childhood reading experiences. What fun to take a group walk down memory lane! 🙂

  8. Heidi!!! I also loved The good master by Kate Seredy, It also has a sequel. Then there is Peter Pan, all books by louisa May Alcott and a really wonderful book, called Tom’s midnight garden ( I forgot the name of the author) – a must read for lovers of children’s books!

  9. i luved reading the sunday comics – garfield, in particular – and i’m still a garfield fan. book-wise, charlotte’s web was my favourite – i read and watched the cartoon movie over and over again throughout my childhood. but i read pretty much as many books as i could check out of the library and carry home. =)

    “I remember a series about kids who lived in a bus or a train?” – you mean, the boxcar children?

  10. Have any of you reread books you enjoyed in childhood only to find they are a completely new and different book? I meet this dubious surprise whenever I reread an old favourite, and it makes me wonder what I thought I was reading the first time round and what elements are picked up as significant to the child’s mind rather than the adult’s.

    I recently reread Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. What could be more cosy and pink, you ask. Almost anything, I found out. Most of the book seems to involve anxiety, dull routine and very little glamour – far from the picture in my head. Most different of all is one of the child characters who loathes the life of stage school the girls have been forced into to make ends meet at home and is openly described as ‘depressed’.

    Which books have you reread only to find yourself reading a completely new story?

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