Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Michelle Styles: The Reader as a Child

I will put my hands up and say that I was an enthusiastic reader. Even before I could read, I was constantly looking at books. Richard Scarry certainly helped me with my reading progress. When I was first sent away to Girl Scout camp, my mother wondered what I would without books for a week, I found the disused library in a dusty corner of the craft building and read my way through it. My mother sighed when she found out.
And there books that I loved with my whole heart because as a child I read passionately. If I didn't like something, I moved on. I can remember a friend being passionate about Julie of the Wolves, it never did anything for me. But it was the book that helped her discover the joy of reading. As an adult, I suppose I read less passionately. I do not tend reread as much and since I've become a writer, I tend to read more critically. But I still remember the experience and know that while a book might not speak to me, someone else may care passionately about it.
I am always delighted when readers write to me that they have loved my books. A fifteen year old girl in Essex recently wrote to me about An Impulsive Debutante, how she checked it out from the library and was now on the sixth reread in between studying for her GCSEs. I was also slightly nervous because I sincerely hope that she doesn't fall out of love with the book. But it was the sort of letter that authors long for when they start writing. To touch one person... It made me wish that I had been brave enough to write to my favourite authors...
Last week, I happened to discover a blog post by the Editorial Ass about childhood reading and the Magician's Book. Some of you may remember when Lucy reads it in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Anyway, the blog got me thinking about favourite books I had as a child and I did a blog post on my own blog. And I wanted to get a meme going so that if others wanted to talk about their favourite childhood books, they could. And I thought I would repeat it here.
The invitation goes like this:
Name at least one book that you read as a child (ie 11 or under) that still exists in your memory as a perfect story. You can say why if you wish, or simply give a list -- your choice. It can be a story that you are now uncomfortable about having loved or were uncomfortable at some point and have now come back to or alternatively just one that you have always loved:
I put some of my favourites on my original post but here are some my other favourites (after if you are a Reading Child -- the library is full of magic.) Other authors who have posted their favourites on their individual blogs include: Donna Alward, Kate Hardy, Nell Dixon and Nicola Cornick -- in case you are interested.

1. The Princess and the Goblins by George MacDonald -- I discovered this because it was shelved next to the Mrs Piggle-Wiggle books in my library. I adored the tale. After I grew up, I discovered that JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis were also fans of George MacDonald as children. My children adored it as well and the sequel The Princess and Curdie.

2. Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise McGraw -- it is the book that made me realise that ancient civilisation romance/adventure was not only possible but desirable.

3. Dancing Shoes by Noel Stratefield. I loved all of the Shoe books but this one with Rachel who suddenly doesn't fit with Mrs Winters Little Wonders really struck a chord.
4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett ( with illustrations by Tasha Tudor) -- I loved it and A Little Princess. I could wax lyrical for hours. In fact when we first looked at the house where we live with its very overgrown garden, I thought that it was a garden that just needed to be brought back to life.

5. Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace. I read all the Betsy-Tacy books. I adored the relationship Betsy, Tacy and Tib had and their adventures. I suppose in a way because of the setting, they were the books that first got me into historicals. I also loved the Lois Lenski illustrations.

6. A Little House on The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved all the House books and the illustrations by Garth Williams. I was given this as a Christmas present when I was seven and immediately wanted to be a pioneer and travel in a covered wagon. But somehow the television series never lived up to my imagination. Later when I reread the books as an adult, I was impressed at hard Ma worked and the dangers they faced.

I will stop here, but I do want to know about books that touched you as a child.


Laurie said...

With an older brother and sister I read a lot of books:

Heidi-Johanna Spyri

The Cricket in Times Square- George Selden

The Prince & the Pauper - Mark Twain

The Snow Queen- Hans Christian Anderson

Pollyanna-Eleanor H Porter

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm- Kate Douglas Wiggin

Caddy Woodlawn-Carol Ryrie Brink

The Three Mouseketeers and The Count of Monte Crisco- Alexandre Dumas

Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson

My children grew up with these plus EB White, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Shel Silverstein, Laura Ingals Wilder, Lynne Reid Banks.....

Michelle Styles said...

Oh those are great books Laurie!!
I used to love Heidi.

Anne McAllister said...

We had a small local library and I read every book as many times as I dared. My favorite was a book by Joan Howard who also writes (I found out a few years ago) as Patricia Gordon. She wrote a wonderful book called The 13th is Magic. It was set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and was about two kids who discover that on the 13th of the month, a 13th floor is suddenly accessible in their apartment house. And from the 13th floor they have a series of wonderful adventures.

Of course I read lots and lots of others, too. Thousands, probably. But I won't bore you with them. Good topic, Michelle!

Mary said...

Great topic! I have a feeling I will be the only one saying this but I didn't have any books as a child. I didn't realize I was missing out until I went into my high school library and looked at all the books they had. The very first book I picked up to read because I wanted to, was Cujo by Stephen King. I was 16 years old. But I have never stopped reading since.

Pat Cochran said...

I read every book I could get my hot-little-hands on from my child-
hood through to today! The primary
"read" of my lifetime was The Secret
Garden. I read it several time over the years, but I just realized I
never had a copy of my own! Guess
what I just added to my to-be-pur-
chased list! Thanks, Kristan!

Pat Cochran said...

OOPS! Big time OOPS!!

Sorry, MIchelle! I was at a blog
where Kristan Higgans was the
guest blogger before this. The
name stuck in my mind even though
I really do know the difference,
really I do!

Pat Cochran

flchen1 said...

Michelle, I love your list--most of those are on my list as well, and what I'm loving even more is how fun it is to introduce these to my own kids :) We read the Little House series aloud together about a year ago, and all the kids enjoyed it. Books are truly magical!

Michelle Styles said...

Anne -- when I first read about Magician books and books people adored as a child, I thought of you and Kate Walker as I know about your love of books.

Mary -- It is great that you discovered books (whatever age you happen to be) My husband did not read that much as child and was able to discover books when my children were growing up. One of the great pleasures can be introducing people to books.

Pat -- it happens. But The Secret Garden is one of those books that stands the test of time. I prefer the Tasha Tudor illustrations because I really how she draws. Do get a copy!!

flchen1 -- I know what you mean about reading the Little House books out loud. My mother first read me Little House in the Big Woods to get me interested...I read the first couple out loud to my children but then they read the rest. Some of this was because my husband took over the reading outloud duties -- he read Lord of the Rings to each of them in turn.

One of the books that has had a big impact on my youngest is Where the Red Fern Grows.

Michele L. said...

Oddly I was attracted to and inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's books The Hobbit, The Return of the King, etc. I loved them! I also read the books you mentioned above. Thinking back to when I was really small I loved the 'Madelaine' books. The illustrations were wonderful!

prashant said...

But I won't bore you with them. Good topic,
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