School’s out for the summer! This glorious time of year ushers in one of my favorite things… summer reading. While taking my boys to the library last week to pick out some books for our local library’s Summer Reading Challenge, I thought about some of my favorite books from childhood.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
In Anne I found a true “kindred spirit.” Someone who saw the world through the same romantic lens that I did. Her adventures were amusing, heartwarming, and just plain fun. And as an added bonus: Gilbert Blythe – my first fictional crush.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Just like the cover suggests, this was the probably the first “dark” story I read as a child. I was enthralled by every page: the faraway setting, the dangerous storyline, and the put-upon heroines—Bonnie and Sylvia—trying to escape the prison-like orphanage they were sent to by the cruel Miss Slighcarp.
Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service by Keith Robertson
My favorite in the Henry Reed series, Henry and his friend, Midge, start up their own babysitting business. Pure fun and wackiness.
Katie John by Mary Calhoun
Ten-year-old tomboy Katie John moves from California to Missouri when her Great Aunt Emily dies and leaves her parents a huge, rambling house in the country. I loved being taken along on the adventures as Katie John made friends, explored the countryside, and got into lots and lots of trouble.
The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom
Nordstrom edited classic children’s books like Charlotte’s Web, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Where the Wild Things Are. I loved her sweet story about two girls at boarding school who invent their own secret language. As a child of a much less glamorous public school, it inspired me to create my own secret language. I still remember it to this day. Meest efin puoya anack lerugifo itil utuom.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
As an adult my favorite stories are always the ones in which the main character is transformed in some way. This is probably the first transformation I had the pleasure to discover. (And as I kid, I think I loved any book with the word “secret” in the title.) After her parents’ death, Mary Lennox leaves her home in India to live with her uncle in a dark and brooding English manor. Just as Mary’s secret garden blooms with the help of some great friends, Mary herself blooms with new life and spirit.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Even though she wasn’t a typical, lovable character, there was something in Harriet that I could connect with. She was real and honest, and she lived her life through observations and written words. A true introvert, just like me.
100 Pounds of Popcorn by Hazel Krantz
Andy and his sister find a 100-pound bag of popping corn and start up their own business, only to find it’s not as simple as it seems. I loved seeing these industrious kids solve problem after problem in their quest to be entrepreneurs.
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Beverly Cleary captures the essence of childhood with humor, heart, and a delightfully spunky main character.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
I wrote about this book in our very first blog post. I still contend that it’s one of the most clever books ever written. I re-read it every year.
There are many, many books I’m leaving off this list… but these are some that came immediately to mind when thinking back over youthful summer’s spent lost in books.
What favorites do you remember from childhood?