When I was a wee one, my Mom really, really wanted my sister and I to love reading. She has always been a huge reader and made it her mission as a parent to instill a love of literature in the two of us. While other kids were watching Spongebob Square Pants and Rugrats on T.V., my Mom had us plopped on the couch watching Reading Rainbow, Between the Lions, or some other educationally approved kids’ show that promoted literacy. Whenever I would tell my Mom about a friend saying that they “hated reading”, my Mom would be all like, “Well that’s to bad for blah, blah, blah [insert imaginary name here], because reading is amaze-balls (okay so maybe she didn’t say that, but something of the equivalency)!!” Besides watching book related television shows, my Mom introduced us to lots of great picture and beginning reader chapter books. She would often read these books to us out loud, which, we would then have passionate discussions about afterwards. I loved these read out louds! They were much better than the majority of my teachers and my Mom could do lots of funny voices :P. The trio of us loved read out louds so much that we did them up through the 8th grade (yes, we are a weird family, don’t judge). I am glad that my Mom put so much time and energy into evoking a love of reading in both my sister and I. Without the great books that I read when I was younger, I would not have the amount of background knowledge that I currently obtain, an extensive vocabulary, and probably would have had a more difficult time getting through some of the dry books I’ve been forced to read in high school (cough, cough…The Scarlet Letter, no offense to those who dig it or anything). However, most importantly, reading has helped me become the open-minded, compassionate, and sometimes skeptical/cynical person I am today. Books have exposed me to the many joys and horrors of life and I’m grateful for that because reading about various issues inspires me to make change in the world. I want to bring the joy that I’ve read about into other people’s lives; especially those who have so little of it. In this blog post, I’m going to share my some of my favorite books that I read as an elementary schooler. Whether you are a parent, educator, or someone who is just curious about and/or simply loves amazing children’s books, you’ve come to the right place (psssstt…I am seventeen years old and still ❤ children’s books)! This will more than likely be a series on my blog, as I don’t want to just give y’all a laundry list of books; I want to explain what I love about each and every one of these stories. Drum roll please………….or you can just scroll down if you wish ;).
My Favorite Childhood Books
Book #1: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannen
I remember my sister and I reading this beautifully illustrated book, with a wonderful message, multiple times. If you are not familiar with the book’s plot, it is about a young girl who is teased by her classmates for loving Lima beans. Therefore, she vows to never eat Lima beans again, but then, she comes down with a case of stripes. Her parents, however, force her to go to school regardless of being decorated with stripes, and is then subjected to even more teasing by her classmates. She eventually learns that the only cure for getting rid of her stripes are good ol’ Lima beans. Through this experience she learns not to care about what other people think. I believe that this is a vital theme for young children to learn that will carry with them through life. I know that the gorgeous pictures and carefully crafted sentences in this book has always served as a reminder to me!
Book #2: The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osbourne
I remember hearing one of these books for the first time as a read out loud in grade school and then becoming obsessed with them shortly there after. I didn’t read all of them, but every single book I did read I thoroughly enjoyed. The premise of these books are that two siblings, Jack and Annie, find a tree house in their backyard and discover that it can make them go back in time. As a result, they go on some pretty immaculate adventures and go to many different places, witnessing famous historical events such as the American Revolution, The Olympics, The First Thanksgiving, and the Titanic sinking. These books really got me excited about history as a kid and made me eager to learn more about the colossal turning points that shaped our nation and world. I’d highly recommend these books to any kid in grade school, especially if they are not big fans of history, because Jack and Annie will for sure make the subject more enjoyable for them.
Book #3: The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsberg
When I was young, I was so fascinated by summer sleep-away camps and desperately wanted to go for years. I would envision myself at sleep-away camp constantly, even going as far as dreaming up my own. Seriously guys, I would sometimes even open up a word document and make my own overnight camp brochures with snazzy backgrounds, slick fonts, pictures, everything. I would even make fake testimonials from kids with fake last names, such as Corington, Halifaxer, Roshien, Itrabide (for realzies, these were legit names that I made up. I went through my old journals today.) So, as you can imagine, the day my parents told me that I was allowed to go to sleep-away camp, I was uber stoked. However, when I actually attended an overnight camp located in Vermont, I wound up enjoying it a minuscule amount . I suffered from extreme homesickness, crying multiple times a day. I also really loathed the food and was mightily disappointed that the outdoor lunch buffet that was advertised on their website was really indoors and just leftovers from dinner. Damn liars.
Okay, I should probably stop ranting now and talk about how this experience is related to the book. Anyways, after my bad overnight camp experience, I found The Outcast of 19 Schuyler Place at Barnes and Noble and instantly knew that I would be able to relate to it from reading the back cover. The premise of this book is that a twelve-year-old named Margaret Rose attends sleep-away camp during the 70’s while her parents are trying to repair their marriage. However, the plot twist is that her cabin-mates are tormentors who play vicious pranks and therefore, she sends for her uncles to pick her up. After being rescued, Margaret Rose spends the rest of the summer with her uncles, trying to save two towers that are going to be taken down. I absolutely adored this book as a kid and read it multiple times (it is rare that I read a book more than once, even if I really love it). The love I had for this story is shown in its current physical condition, without a cover and pages falling out. I would recommend this book to anybody regardless of age, but especially for pre-teen ladies as I think that they will especially be able to relate to the main character, Margaret Rose, as someone that they could see themselves being friends with and take comfort in. Hopefully they will cherish this book, as I have, and take note of its wonderful messages of perseverance, unexpected friendship, and the fact that life just doesn’t work out all of the time. These themes have stayed with me throughout my teenage years.
Have any of you guys read these books before? What were your favorite books growing up?
Your Reading Buddy,
P.S. Here are the book links: