It’s Day 3 of my #AtoZChallenge which means we’ve arrived at letter C. C is for childhood, and chapter books.
While some of my favorite childhood chapter books still reside at my parent’s house, I have brought many here to my apartment. The latter will be photographed below, the former unfortunately will not be now, although I may come back later after a visit home to add them in. I’ll write an addendum if I do. This is not an all-inclusive list; I will not discuss stories like Charlotte’s Web, those from Dr. Seuss, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and others, because unfortunately I do not have an endless amount of time to talk about their profound effects on me (they are important to me though, really they are).
Anyway, I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t loved reading since…well since I can remember. A lot of my time was spent reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder, a magical wardrobe, a courageous trio of magical people, Ramona Quimby, and a cross-state trip with grandparents. Additionally, those I read for school assignments – The Magic Tree House and The Giver come immediately to mind – and childhood books I discovered as I entered my teen years (City of Ember).
The books I loved as a child have made an exceptional impression on me (as it goes). I always did and still do wish I could live in a Little House in the Big Woods; will always love transporting around the world of Narnia; will never get over missing out on a Hogwarts letter; will never forget the hole in Ramona’s home or how her mother tricked her into not running away from home; and dear, dear Sal, whose life and significant journey I didn’t fully grasp until the third or fourth read, and then didn’t totally understand until I got older.
With the exception of Walk Two Moons my favorite childhood books, if you haven’t already figured it out, were part of a series. I’ve always loved stories that traverse time, that don’t just begin and end with one book. Granted, it’s always crushing when they do ultimately end, but it is satisfying when authors take pity on those of us who haven’t completely grown out of the magic and decide to continue the journey (J.K. Rowling, you lovely angel). But these books create worlds that can be escaped to, challenges that can be overcome, and hope that although wasn’t necessarily needed as a child (though for some children, I know this is the opposite), is nice to relive when experiencing adult realities.
So Sharon Creech’s novel is the outlier. I can think of a few more of her books I loved: Ruby Holler (the edition I have may actually be one of my favorites of all time), Bloomability, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, and Heartbeat. And as I compile this list I know why I love her, although I couldn’t have completely realized why as a child. Sharon Creech writes about situations in which children have to rise up out of childhood, or are struggling with the line between child and adult. While many of her characters and I did not share similar circumstances or family structures, they commanded my attention because unlike characters at Hogwarts or in Narnia, there were no monsters or creatures or magic; just people. Not to say the children didn’t have to rise up and be strong and responsible at Hogwarts and Narnia, but somehow also seeing “real” children work through tough problems I could imagine actually happening in my world, made it seem more…possible, maybe, for me to take on challenges in my world.
I hope I’ve worded that clearly; I’m working through this as I write so if my rereads and edits don’t fix discrepancies or confusing sentences I apologize. Rediscovering, rereading, and reviewing books we loved as a child can be so eye-opening, awe-inspiring, and just fun, so I hope I’ve done those I loved and love justice here.
Please feel free to share your most cherished childhood books (chapter or picture) in the comments below, as well as authors, characters, or plot lines you won’t ever forget. Happy reading!