Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Favourite Childhood Books


I've mentioned before that I was a voracious reader as a child. I know many of you were too. So this post asks the question: what were your favourite books when you were a kid? You know, the ones that blew your socks off, the ones you read over and over, and the ones that had a real or lasting impact on your life?


Here's my list --

1. The Bobbsey Twins series of books by Laura Lee Hope (a pseudonym for a whole string of pulp writers). Anyone else remember these disgustingly wholesome little books? They've gone the way of the dodo bird now and quite rightly so. But I cut my teeth on reading them, so they have a special place in my heart despite their low quality.

2. British writer Enid Blyton's Adventure books -- The River of Adventure, The Castle of Adventure, etc. I believe there were 8 books in this series. I read them all at least 10 times.

3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Our Grade 3 teacher read us this book in school. It was the first book I ever asked my parents to buy for me. I read it over and over until it fell apart. I never saw the movie until I was an adult.

4. Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Because of my Swiss heritage, it was a "must read" in my childhood. I liked the movie with Shirley Temple too, which I saw on TV.

5. The Little House on the Prairies series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The series is out of fashion now for its questionable views on indigenous people and its wholehearted promotion of the myth of benevolent Western settlement. But I loved these books back in the day and read them many times.

6. The Hardy Boys mysteries by Franklin W. Dixon (a pseudonym for another whole string of pulp writers). I read as many of these as I could get my hands on. I totally identified with the Hardy Boys and shunned the similar line of mysteries "for girls" about little miss prim-n-proper Nancy Drew. But as much as I despised Nancy Drew, I did like her tomboy girl chum, George. Of course, I figured out why much later on.


And as a Canadian kid, I adored the following Canadian children's books. In those days, it was so rare to read anything actually set in our own country --

7. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I had this PEI book practically memorized and used to act out its scenes constantly with one of my first girlhood crushes. I was so smitten with my little tomboy friend that I even let her be Anne. I was content to be her Diana. (One of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog was about her).

8. The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton, who was one of our most popular and distinguished writers of Canadian history and national affairs. It's the only children's book he ever wrote, a kind of Canadian riff on the Oz books, but set in Ontario.

9. Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat, another serious author later in life who started out by writing charming kids books. Owls was actually set in Saskatchewan -- Saskatchewan, for gawd's sake! A place I knew and had been to! Who could believe it?

Okay, your turn now! What were your favourite childhood books?

55 comments:

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton as well as The Children of Willow Tree Farm by Enid Blyton. I devoured the whole Trixie Beldon mystery series. I also read Nancy Drew but preferred Trixie. My Side of the Mountain by Jean George was so powerful for me that I still have my original copy and read it to my students. Thanks, this was fun to read about your favourites, most of which I have also read. I'm curious to read about other people's favourites. -Jenn

Marie Smith said...

The Hardy Boys were always my favourites.

NanaDiana said...

We read and loved a lot of the same books- I also liked Trixie Belden, Sue Barton-Nurse, Cherry Ames-Nurse, The Secret Garden then when I was in my teens- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Of Mice and Men & To Kill a Mokingbird. LOVED to read then- still do. I just wish I had more time to read. xo Diana

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I grew up with the classics: my mom used to read to us Andersen and Pierrault and Grimm. When I started reading on my own, I went for The Hardy Boys and Phillip Pullman and His Dark Materials kind of stuff. I soon graduated to thrillers and those old timey Westerns though. I was precocious....

XOXO

mxtodis123 said...

I loved Heidi, Charlotte's Web, Tom's Midnight Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

Bob Slatten said...

Charlotte's Web was a favorite.
As was Animal Farm.
I was also keen on history and read any kind of historical books for kids.

Leanna said...

The Hardy Boys, The Boxcar Kids, Nancy Drew, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Anne of Green Gables were all my favorites. I later graduated up to English literature, science fiction, and governmental murder mysteries.

Harry Hamid said...

I remember reading Dr. Seusss, then Beverly Cleary book (Henry books and Ramona books), and then, a little later, really weird, mindblowing books by a guy named Daniel Pinkwater, which are technically kids books but so imaginative and odd that they are probably responsible for making me weird.

Miss Val's Creations said...

I was obsessed with shel silverstein's poems. They may me laugh and let my imagination go to crazy places!

Ur-spo said...

No one mentioned The Phantom Tollbooth? It was my favorite.

mshatch said...

The ones I re-read: A Wrinkle in Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Princess and the Goblin, The Prydain Chronicles, The Secret Garden, Nightbirds on Nantucket and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - to name a few :)

Parnassus said...

I was always a reader, but I don't think that I read much fiction at that time. I always liked mythology, such as Hamilton's and Bullfinch's. I read a lot about coins, and practically memorized the works of Euell Gibbons.
--Jim

Infidel753 said...

The Phantom Tollbooth was definitely one of mine, along with Alexander Key's The Forgotten Door and, yes, The Chronicles of Narnia. At that age I hardly knew anything about religion, and the Christian allegories in Narnia that would be obvious to most people pretty much went over my head, though I do remember thinking Aslan was annoyingly sanctimonious. What fascinated me about it was the idea of a strange hidden world that could be reached by some kind of secret doorway -- come to think of it, the other books I mentioned involved the same concept. I also liked Cameron's Mushroom Planet books.

I did read a lot as a kid, but a lot of it is hard to remember now.

Joanne Noragon said...

I read many of yours, but I was in it for history. I knew the movement of pioneers across this country and the loss of natives. I was in my mid teens when I had the big ah-ha moment of responsibility for change and destruction. Another thing books can give us, truth, whether we want it or not.

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

I had and read (over and over) all the Nancy Drew books. Little House on the Prairie was another as was Anne of Green Gables. Another fave was Bread and Jam for Frances. And anything Judy Blume.

brewella deville said...

Let's see, moving from left to right it was the Little Bear Books, The Wind in the Willows, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, The Phantom Tollbooth, My Side of the Mountain, and then To Kill a Mockingbird. Those were read over and over again. There was also a collection of classic poems, fairy tales, and Greek Mythology. It was a giant book with gorgeous wood block illustrations, read to the point that eventually it lost its front and back covers. I don't remember the specific name of it, but it was still being published in the eighties because I bought one for a friend's child.

DVArtist DVArtist said...

This is a wonderful post. I am dyslexic and as a child, reading was very difficult for me.

Deedles said...

I was(still am) a voracious reader as a child. I lived at the Bookmobile. I'll just list some books that I read over and over.
The magic books of Edward Eager, especially The Time Garden.
The Ship That Flew by Hilda Lewis. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. Howard Pyle's the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Louis Untermeyer's Lives of the Poets (I know, right?). Tom Sawyer. Huckleberry Finn. The Jungle Book (especially Rikki-Tikki-Tavi). The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time and The World Book Encyclopedia.
What can I say? I liked escaping my life :) I also read and reread every Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Rat Patrol paperback ever written.








Susan said...

All of the Beatrix Potter books, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (especially these, which I have read and re-read all my life), Nancy Drew, The Sweet Patootie Doll.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

beatrix potter, nancy drew and yes, little golden books.

DEZMOND said...

did not know you had Swiss heritage.... tell me it means we have a chocolate factory in Swiss Alps?
I read Russian, German, French, classics as a kid which is why today I have a very high criteria when it comes to books :( It is funny that I find all English classics deeply inferior to any foreign classic even though I'm a professor of English literature :)

Benita Roberts said...

You have so many of my favorites on your list. Anne of Green Gables is probably one of my most favorites, followed only by the Little House on the Prairie series. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was great! One that I still have and is a favorite is Judy's Journey by Lois Lenski. I will pull it off the shelf and flip through it occasionally...brings back so many wonderful memories! Have a great one! Hugs!

bobbie said...

Great post!! Let me see what I can remember...
The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, all the Little House on the Prairie books, most of the adult novels my Mom had, the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I was one of THOSE kids!), and many, many more!
My favorite place to be, especially when the weather was icky, was at the library ~ I could spend HOURS there!
And things have not changed one bit!

bobbie said...

Oooh! How could I forget about A Wrinkle in Time!!
And 'Peanuts' comic books!

Rosemary said...

I read lots and lots of Enid Blyton's many different series. Narnia captivated me, and I loved reading all the adventures that the children in Swallows & Amazons had during their summer holidays in the Lake District with their parents. They were allowed to camp by themselves on their own island in the middle of a lake and even had their own dingy which was decorated with a pirates flag.

^.^ said...

Growing up in Europe, I read anything and everything by Astrid Lindgren … Love, cat.

Professor Chaos said...

I remember reading Charlotte's Web over and over which is odd because it was such a downer. I loved the Phantom Tollbooth, that book started a life-long love affair with puns and wordplay. And tons of Hardy Boys mysteries.

anne marie in philly said...

bobbsey twins, nancy drew, dr. seuss, beverly cleary. then as I got older, gone with the wind, exodus, shakespeare. now I read bio/autobio, travel, history books.

Adam said...

Berestien bears, goosebumps, and a few others.

Bea said...

Beverly Cleary's Ramona the Pest

Almost anything by Judy Blume made the cut.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster had a huge impact on me.

All of Maurice Sendak's work I devoured.

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

As an adult, I read Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy and dug it.






Martha said...

Where do I start?! Oh yes, I was definitely a reader. I couldn't get enough of books! Anne of Green Gables was definitely a favourite. Judy Blume was a beloved writer. And I really enjoyed Harriet the Spy. That was fun. Some others I enjoyed include Charlotte's Web, Huckleberry Finn...and on and on.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I love this. But it will take some thought. I'll get back to you with my list but the first that comes to mind is ¨The Red Balloon.¨

Ole Phat Stu said...

Saw a car bumper sticker last week:-

If you can read this,
thank a teacher :-)

G.B. Miller said...

Alas, I never had any faves for children's books because once I'd learned to read (and read with comprehension), I skipped right to the adult books. To be honest, in my day, children's books weren't very challenging to read. Today, they are, but then, I found them to be vapid and condescending.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I didn't have access to many children's book while growing up, other than textbooks. So, I grew up reading books meant for adults *cough* and a lot of mythology. The first children's book I ever read was The Little Prince, and I read it as a teenager. I still love it.

Elsie Amata said...

I used to read Little House on the Prarie too. Same with the Hardy Boys..and Nancy Drew. My favorites were anything from Judy Blum. As I got older, I loved Go Ask Alice and When Rabbit Howls. You know what? I'm going to look for When Rabbit Howls now. That was such a great book.

Elsie

Karen Ann said...


I loved the Little House on the Prairie series, the Ann of Green Gables books, Blueberries for Sal, the Misty of Chincoteague books by Marguerite Henry, Judy Blum Books, and I am an avid reader as an adult - wide spectrum of reads.

Willym said...

Now I'm really reaching back - I had outgrown the children's section of our local library by the time I was 8 or 9. Mrs Kennedy, the head librarian - I can see her now flame red hair, red glasses (very avant garde for the time)- let me look at the adult section and take "selected" books from it but I had to get a letter from my parents saying it was okay. If it was about the theatre or opera then I read it - not once but twice/three/four times.

But here's a bit of a list in no particular order:

1. Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare - my sister-in-law gave me that one when I was six or seven.
2. Milton Cross's Stories from the Great Operas - boy did my sister-in-law recognize a budding opera queen even at the age of eight. I still have it.
3. Little Men - hmmm no comment
4. Toby Tyler - a circus story - I loved the circus
5. The Illiad - not sure if I liked the book or the illustrations the most.
6. The Three Musketeers - I thought Lady de Winter was cool.
7. Anna and the King of Siam - only because it was the basis of The King and I
8. The Burns Mantle Best Plays Annual - boy I waited for that one to show up on the library shelf each year. Mrs Kennedy gave me first dibs on it.

Looking at the list it does appear fairly one-sided but we are going back sixty odd years ago. I'm sure there are many others I've totally forgotten.

As for the Lucy Maud stuff - I didn't read those books until I was moving here to the Island. I now realize that they are more than children's books. They are pointed, and at times very critical, stories of a particular time, society, and place.







Missy George said...

Nancy Drew, and of Green Gables, the Hardy boys, Winnie the Pooh, Grim, Tom Sawyer, Edgar Allan Poe. Something happened to me I don’t read anymore!

Kirk said...

Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Winnie the Pooh, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Rabbit Hill.

The Happy Whisk said...

What did you think of Oz once you saw the movie? Mine was the other way about. I saw the movie so many times and then read the book later in life.

Nancy Drew for me - Those yellow books and the blue Hardy Boys in the library always drew me in.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ The Happy Whisk -- When I finally did see the movie of "The Wizard of Oz," I just LOVED it! I was particularly taken by how it was initially in B&W when Dorothy was in Kansas and then turned to colour in Oz. Plus I loved how the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and even the Wicked Witch were all based on people from her Kansas home (a detail not contained in the book). And of course the music -- every song a classic!

Old Lurker said...

Sepia, dear -- not B&W.

One book that broke my brain as a child was The Pushcart War, but I enjoyed a lot of trashy children's series: The Three Investigators, The Great Brain, many of the Oz books (there was a big series!), Tom Swift, and of course Enid Blyton. I was also a fan of Beverley Cleary -- in particular the Ralph books with his motorcycle, and I did not mind the Narnia books. Later in puberty I got into Isaac Asimov (who is still an amazing writer, although he has not aged well), Piers Anthony's Xanth series, the Tarzan books, and who knows what other embarrassing things.

Speaking of which, how is your marathon to exceed last year's reading total going?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Old Lurker -- I'm afraid my 2019 reading marathon is more like a limping stumble so far. I have not finished even one book, although I do have two of them on the go at the moment. And one of them is friggin huge. I'm afraid it will turn into another Moby-Dick, which took me 6 years to read.

Rommy said...

Heidi! LOL, sometimes I think I'm the only one who remembered it. A Little Princess was also one of my favorites. Yes, both were Shirley Temple movies, but I adored the books more than the movies. I also loved Anne of Green Gables. Equally spellbinding was the Chronicles of Narnia series (except for the last one - I didn't care too much for it), and A Wrinkle in Time. Books like Ramona the Pest, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing kept me laughing too.

Fundy Blue said...

I read and loved all of the books and series you mentioned, Debra, with the exception of Pierre Berton's book. In all honesty, I have to add that I read "The Little House on the Prairies" series as a third grade teacher and ditto for "Owls in the Family" which I read aloud to my classroom kiddos many of the years I taught. I'm sure I've mentioned to you before that L. M. Montgomery was a second cousin to my grandmother MacBeath who was a Stewart and a Pratt. "Anne of Green Gables" always sends memories of my Island childhood rippling through my mind. To your list I would add the Trixie Belden books, the Winnie the Pooh books, The Just So Stories, and the Dr. Seuss books. I know I've left some out. Many of the more recent books mentioned in the comments I came to love by reading them aloud to my second and third grade books. To those books I have to add the Bunnicula series and the Harry Potter Series, and anything by Chris Van Allsburg, Will Hobbs, and Byrd Baylor, and ... OMG ~ I don't think anyone mentioned "The Diary of Anne Frank," another favorite of mine when I was a child. All the classic fairy tales, nursery rhymes, "The Hobbit" and "LOTR." Okay I'll stop!

Ol'Buzzard said...

I was fortunate as a young child that I had an aunt that read to me. My favorite was Ferdinand the Bull, and a fairy tell about dogs with eyes as big as saucers??? When I was old enough to read it was Two Little Savages by Ernest Thompson Seton and comic books. I was about age ten before I started reading for pleasure.
the Ol'Buzzard

JACKIESUE said...

when I tell people what I read ..they don't believe me..Gone with the wind, little women the black stallion series, Rhubarb and all the other books by H. Allan Smith, Ayn Rand(? I know..strange huh?)all books by Edgar Rice Burroughs especially the science fiction ones, Robert Rourke,Curly ..about Crazy Horse as a kid.Jack Paar , any and all books on Africa..any book on horses. Pretty much everything that I could put my hands on.

Magic Love Crow said...

I love your list Deb! I remember going through school and we would get books to read. I think we had to pay for them? I forget what they were called, but I really loved reading them. Scholastic books? I loved Ann Of Green Gables too! I use to have a LARGE colouring book and I would colour by the hours in that book! Big Hugs!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Oh yes, Heidi, Little Women, the Swiss Family Robinson and any book about running off to join the circus (I knew that I'd be a natural on the trapeze).

LL Cool Joe said...

The fact I haven't read any of these books must make me an adult that doesn't think. Sigh. As a child I was too busy avoiding being hit.

Guillaume said...

If you exclude all my teenage discoveries, as most of my favourite books come from my teenage years, I would say probably The Lord of the Rings. Although I quite enjoyed Moby Dick and The Hound of the Baskervilles too.

bj said...

Oz was a favorite...Little Women and I saw the movie about a thousand times....

baili said...

I did not read the book Anne of green gables but when i was little i watched the t.v series and LOVED it !


my child hood was sunken in books most of them were borrowed by school library written by great writers of Urdu language

fascinating stories of jack and Emmy and many others imported from western literature that i read frequently as i loved to be part of that fantasy world

Liz Hinds said...

Little women. What Katy Did.

It's interesting guessing the age of people who've commented by their choice of books.