Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Childhood Faves
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely folks over at The Broke and the Bookish post a top ten list topic so that book lovers like you and me can pour over our shelves and make our own lists. You can check out all the other Top Ten Tuesday‘s on their site!
Oh my goodness, this list was actually harder to put together than I thought it would be! The books I seemed to remember most from my childhood were limited to a handful of stories, and the rest of the books I read are nothing more than a haze, which is odd because I remember reading ALL THE TIME. But once I put some thought into it, I remembered reading and loving TONS more books that I initially thought I would. And I also wavered on how I might define “childhood”: like, picture books? Early chapter books? Or maybe the books I was reading in middle school? I decided on a little bit of everything. The only thing that I couldn’t remember–even after much thought (my childhood was…probably longer ago than yours *has a sad*)–was actual names of books in series that I loved. So I just named the series here and you can rest assured that I read EVERY BOOK in each of them.
In no particular order…
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
I guess it’s a cliche that this book is on here, but really, I can’t help it. If this book WASN’T on the list of my top ten favorite childhood books, I might as well abandon this list entirely, or admit that whatever list I DID provide was a sham. This was one of the first books I loved that made me cry, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Wilbur is an all-time great character for me: sweet, loyal, endearing, loving, and brave. He’s one of the reasons that, to this day, when I see a picture of a cutie patootie little piglet (seriously…they’re ADORABLE), I “awwww” and get a little misty. They always remind me of Wilbur and his BFF Charlotte.
Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary
RAMONA! God, I LOVED Ramona! She was so lively and spirited and funny. I adored the fact that she was such a lovable trouble-maker. I pranked vicariously through her, and she introduced me to the wonderful world of Beverly Cleary, quite possibly my favorite childhood author. There were movies, too–before the sadly but deservedly renamed Ramona and Beezus movie from a year or so back–and the Ramona was PERFECT. Impetuous, imaginative, and fearless.
Sweet Valley High series, by Francine Pascal
I think it must have always escaped my tweeny brain how vaguely dirty some of the titles in this series are: TWO-BOY WEEKEND, DOUBLE LOVE, ALL NIGHT LONG, WRONG KIND OF GIRL, DON’T GO HOME WITH JOHN. Also, during my Goodreads troll for a cover, I discovered some of those “newer” titles in this series, one called THE ARREST and another called THE MORNING AFTER. What?! Who knew! But seriously, I LOVED these books. Being an awkward, brown-haired, non-twin Jersey girl, I was completely taken by the blond-haired, perma-tanned, popular, perfect California-girl Wakefield twins. I read about them voraciously and nearly DIED FROM THE SQUEES when I heard recently that they are bringing this series back. They’re totally going to make Jessica a mean girl.
Christopher Pike books, by…well…Christopher Pike
So, this guy. I know I have singled out a book here that I’m pretty sure I read, but really, he’s on here (over R.L. Stine, but barely) because for a while in middle school, reading his books–anything scary, really–was the only respectable thing to do. I remember buying books of his during Scholastic book fairs at my school. I read lots of his books and, while they are mostly 80s camp horror (think, if you can remember/were even alive, of Tales from the Crypt on TV, although those were books too) that would probably make me chuckle now, I don’t doubt for a second that they would probably still creep me out more than a little, and I KNOW that they scared the CRAP out of me when I was younger.
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
*Sigh* This whole series of books just enchanted me, and I’ve been fascinated by pioneers, frontier life, and log cabins ever since. LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS was the first book in this series chronicling the life of the author, slightly fictionalized of course. But I devoured them all, and still own my original copies (paperbacks, and still in good shape, too). Looking back on them now, they’re actually horribly racist, but investing myself completely in the day-to-day life on the prairie and the relationships between Laura and the rest of the Ingallsclan are some of my earliest memories of being so taken with a story that I couldn’t put it down at night.
The Witches, by Roald Dahl
This is my favorite Roald Dahl book by a hair over THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, and I read lots of Roald Dahl growing up. I loved the fanciful qualities of his more fun titles, and the darkness of the true (BOY) and the not-so-fun (DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD). But this one really tickled my funny bone. I suppose this means that I can trace my love of witches and paranormal stories back to this, the story of a young boy who has a nasty run-in with some witches, who are trying to rid England of all its children. So fun and imaginative.
Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene
Oh, Nancy. You are more than a little bit of a feminist nightmare. Not totally, cause you were independent enough for your day, and you were whip smart and fearless. But…still. You understand that you were more than anything a reflection of your time. And also, in your original form, you were not a little bit racist as well. I can’t hold any of this against you, though, Nance, because my mother read and loved you when she was a girl, and then she introduced me to you when I was a girl, and I thought your primness and the fact that you changed for dinner and had a varsity sweater-wearing boyfriend were swell. And they spruced you up a little before I found you, too.
Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
This is a heavy one, as I remember it. But I remember it vividly: the gray, windswept New England coast town, the lobster (or…wait…crabs? So much for “vividly”), the cats. But most of all, I remember the sisters and their often contentious relationship. Caroline and Wheeze aren’t anything like me and my sister, thankfully, but Wheeze’s story of coming into her own despite living in the shadow of her twin sister touched me.
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
My first tear-jerker, along with CHARLOTTE’S WEB. Also one of the greatest books about friendship between a boy and a girl. And about the power of the imagination. But let’s step back one for a second: Maybe my reading was limited as a young girl to the things I knew I liked and so maybe I missed there being other books that so wonderfully depicted FRIENDSHIP between a boy and a girl in pre-Harry Potter world. Whether I missed something or not, I’m not sure I would have liked another story as much as I liked BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. It’s fab on top of awesome.
Berenstain Bears series, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Ha! These kids! How awesome were the Berenstains, huh?! First of all, THEY LIVED IN A TREE. Second, they obviously have sharp claws but they aren’t dangerous. Third, they taught me about a BUNCH of stuff: cleaning up my mess, going to the dentist, being afraid of the dark, bullying, being a sore loser (to be clear, they didn’t teach me to be afraid of the dark, be a bully, or a sore loser). Loved them.
The Boxcar Children series, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
I read lots of mysteries when I was a young ‘un! Certainly more than I read now! And let me tell you, The Boxcar Children were THE SHIZZ. Four orphaned children who live together in an abandoned train boxcar and solve mysteries together…I loved it. I have a very vivid memory of a scene from this book where they are scraping together some ingredients to make their dinner…God I remember the weirdest stuff. I spent more happy time with these books, though. They were the best.