Top Ten Childhood Favorites
Today’s official topic is “books that awaken the travel bug in me,” but I couldn’t come up with any. Instead, I went back to the very beginning of the Top Ten Tuesday topics, and am doing a throwback topic: childhood favorites. Some of these I have re-read since my initial reading of them, and others I haven’t yet still remember fondly. I’ll try to make a note of which ones I’ve read since childhood (and whether or not they hold up to my memory of them) in the notes below.
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I’ve re-read these a lot. Some of the stories are as wonderful as I remember. (Example: The Magician’s Nephew) Others–or at least one other–is even more wonderful than I remember. (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) However, there are plenty of times where one or more parts of the series now makes me cringe or at least a little uncomfortable. I’m not sure how often I’ll re-read these anymore because bits of them haven’t aged as well as I’d like.
2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
This book is still AMAZING. I love it. I haven’t re-read it in the past couple of years, though, and need to remedy that. I also don’t know what happened to my paperback copy of it, so maybe I’ll need to buy a new copy of the book first. (That’s fine. I have no problem with that.)
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m still not sold on this as a children’s book. However, I read it for the first time when I was in 5th grade, and I loved it. Still do.
4. The Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene
I read so many of these when I was young that I can’t keep straight in my head which I read and which I didn’t. I wish that I had kept better track of the books I read as a kid so that I could go back now and see, but that wasn’t a top priority then. (Reading was. And since I have never minded re-reading a book, it never mattered much to young me whether I knew what books I had already read.)
However, the Nancy Drew books were dated even when I read them, and they’ve only gotten more out of touch since then. They were not sensitive to the needs and feelings of anyone who wasn’t a white middle- or upper-class person. And even though they feature a woman (or “girl” depending on where you draw that line) they aren’t actually that sensitive toward women either. Granted, at the time they seemed to me to present proof that a girl could do anything a boy could do, but now? I recently re-read two of them, and there’s lots of places where there’s hidden prejudices or stereotypes. I don’t know if it’s the current climate or that I’m more aware of these things as an adult, but these books have NOT aged well. I won’t be reading any more of them, instead allowing their memory to be a vague and pleasant experience.
5. The Hardy Boys mysteries by Franklin W. Dixon
These held nearly the same place on my childhood reading list as the Nancy Drew books, because they were fun. (Granted, I preferred having a girl be the crime solver, but these would do if my library didn’t have any Nancy Drew books on the shelves which I hadn’t already read.) I haven’t re-read any Hardy Boys books since I was young, but given my recent experience with the Nancy Drew books I’m not going to bother. I suspect I’d have the same issues with them.
6. The Napping House by Audrey & Dan Wood
I love this book. It’s a picture book, so I find that I expect less of it as an adult–but that isn’t fair. Because this book has a great story and wonderful illustrations, and is so much fun that I still consider it a favorite. It’s my go-to book gift for new parents, and I think I need to remedy the fact that I don’t own a copy. I don’t have kids, but the illustrations make this book worth having on my shelf anyway.
7. The Weaving of a Dream by Marilee Heyer
Another favorite picture book which will be added to my personal (child-free) bookshelf. This one has frame-worthy illustrations and retells a traditional Chinese folktale. I don’t gift it as often, because it can be hard to judge whether or not people want their kids to have traditional folktales in this day and age. (Think the difference between the Disney movie and the Grimm version of fairy tales and you’ll know what I mean.) However, it seems all the truer to me for the sacrifices shown in the book, and I appreciate it more than I would a sanitized version of the same story.
8. D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri & Edgar D’Aulaire
We had this large illustrated book of Greek myths as a coffee table book, and I really don’t know why my parents had it. As far as I knew, they always did. (Was it for them? Us kids? Was it from their youth? No idea. It just lived on/under the coffee table.) This was one of my favorite books to read on rainy days. I’d probably find the stories a bit simplified now, but they’re still the same basic myths you find in the “adult” books.
9. The Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
These three books are still my favorite parts of the Dragonriders of Pern series. I loved them then, I love them now.
10. The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce
I remember loving these books when I was young. I didn’t understand Alanna’s choice in the love triangle (huh, I just realized that this is one love triangle I didn’t mind reading) but I still liked the books. I remember a few things about the magic system. I remember the boy/girl swap thing. And that’s about all I remember about the books. It might be worth re-reading them to see what I think of them now, but in some other ways I don’t want to ruin their memory. We’ll have to see… maybe I’ll revisit them when I’m in a nostalgic mood. I think I still own a series omnibus.