My Childhood Reading Memories - A List

       We didn't own a lot of books when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. We were solidly middle class, but my parents were practical and frugal. If you can borrow books for free at the library, why would you buy them? So as a small child, I had a handful of well-loved books. As I grew older, there got to be a few more as grandparents and friends bought them as gifts. But still, compared to the home library my own children have access to, it wasn't much. 

    I love that my kids have so many books at hand, but does it make them cherish them less? Maybe so, or maybe they don't read nearly as much as I'd like because of the technology that is always just a click away. To be an avid reader nowadays must be an active choice. Where you would once see people on an airplane, the subway, or in a waiting room with newspapers, magazines, or books in their hands, now it is almost always a device of some sort. I fight against it! In the evenings, when we climb into bed, my husband usually has his phone in his hand. I usually have a book. I keep one in my bag to read when I'm waiting to pick up a kid from soccer practice or while they are having their teeth cleaned. I don't deny that the immediate access to ebooks and audiobooks through our devices is amazing, but nothing replaces that feel of a book in one's hands. If we hope to see others, especially our children and students, choose books over devices, we must lead by example. Take the pledge! As my water bottle says, turn off your phone and read a book!

    And now, a list of the books of my childhood that remain strong in my memories. Obviously, I read a lot more than this, but these are the ones that stick in my brain.

  • Harry the Dirty Dog - Gene Zion/Margaret Bloy Graham
  • The Diggingest Dog - Al Perkins/Eric Gurney
  • City Cats, Country Cats - Barbara Shook Hazen/Ilse-Margret Vogel
  • How to Live With a Calculating Cat - Eric Gurney
  • The Book of Giant Stories - David Harrison/Phillipe Fix
  • Gus Was a Friendly Ghost - Jane Thayer
  • A Treasury of Little Golden Books 
  • Ramona the Brave - Beverly Cleary/Louis Darling
  • Strawberry Girl - Lois Lenski
  • King of the Wind - Marguerite Henry
  • Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  • 101 Dalmations - Dodie Smith
  • Lassie Come Home - Eric Knight
  • The Pushcart War - Jean Merrill/Ronni Solbert
  • The White Mountains - William Christopher
  • The Velvet Room - Zilpha Keatley Snider/Alton Raible
  • Magic Elizabeth - Norma Kassirer
  • Jane-Emily - Patricia Clapp
  • The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House - Mary Chase
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare
    There was more. I enjoyed a number of series, like all of Walter Farley's Black Stallion and Island Stallion books, the Little House Books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Nancy Drew. In my teen years I turned to historical bodice rippers, and ended up finding one of my all-time favorite books - The Fallen Angels by Susannah Kells (which is apparently a pen name of Bernard Cornwell).
    The bottom line is that I was a reader. And I didn't have the distractions of today's children. My reading life has made me wealthy beyond measure and taken me places I never would have gone. We owe it to our readers, our students, and our own children to make reading a visible priority in our lives, and to do everything we can to transfer that love of reading to them. If we want the next generation to drop everything and read, we must do so ourselves. So . . . turn off your phone and read a book!


  1. I, too, was and am a reader Kristen. I admire your list of favorites, especially since most of them are books I've never heard of or read!

  2. The Velvet Room and Witch of Blackbird Pond were probably my favorites, and I also can't say enough about the original 101 Dalmations novel. It is so wonderful!


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