Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books from My Childhood or Teens That I Would Love to Revisit.
I have always been a re-reader. Even as a child, I read so fast and so much that I couldn’t take enough books out from the library to feed my habit. And besides, familiar books are comforting, and as a child who sometimes found the world an anxious and unpredictable place, that comfort was something I needed.
I’ve also never understood the concept of “growing out of” good books. Sure, I did eventually grow out of some books, but they were, for the most part, not my favorites, and not great children’s literature either. These, on the other hand, I never grew out of. I may have read them first in my childhood or early teens, but they still appeal to me, because they still have something to say. . . and because they still carry that feeling of familiarity and comfort.
I’ve left out books I didn’t discover until high school (like Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising books or McCaffrey’s Pern series). These are the books I fell in love with in elementary and middle school. In no particular order:
The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis) I have my favorites in this series, assuredly, and I’ve never been terribly fond of The Last Battle, but taken as a whole, this series was my introduction to fantasy as well as to allegory. I still re-read most of them every few years.
The Time Quartet (Madeleine L’Engle) To be honest, it’s really just the first three books in this series: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. They are so wonderful, and so rich and deep, that it almost surprises me that they’re thought of as MG/YA books.
The Anne of Green Gables series (L. M. Montgomery), right up through Rilla of Ingleside. Anne and I were kindred spirits from the moment I first met her, and we’ve remained fast friends ever since.
Linnets and Valerians and The Little White Horse (Elizabeth Goudge) My mother bought these for me while we were traveling in England when I was in 5th grade, because she loved Goudge’s books for adults. I fell in love with both titles, and never fell out. They are delightful, magical books. (Don’t be confused by my linking them together – they are standalones and not very similar to each other.)
The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) I can’t choose between these two lovely classics, and in fact, I often reread them in close proximity to each other. I was sometimes lonely as a child, and had an absent father, so I suppose I related to and found hope in Mary Lennox and Sara Crewe.
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) Another classic, and deservedly so. I’m also fond of Eight Cousins, A Rose in Bloom, Jo’s Boys, and An Old-Fashioned Girl, but I think Little Women is the best and most moving of all of them.
The Chronicles of Prydain (Lloyd Alexander) Once I fell in love with Narnia, I began clamoring for more fantasy, and Alexander’s series featuring an assistant pig-keeper, a talkative princess, magic and high adventure was the first to come my way. They should still be required reading for young (and older) fantasy lovers.
The Melendy Quartet (Elizabeth Enright) The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, And Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb for Two are charming, warm, often funny stories about a family of resourceful and relatively independent children, well worth revisiting.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare) One of only two books I read as a child that contained a Quaker character (the faith in which I was raised.) I also related to Kit in many ways, and admired her near-fearlessness, so I had more than one reason to love this book. (In case you’re wondering, the other book was Beyond the Weir Bridge by Hester Burton, and I revisit it occasionally, too.)
The Swallows & Amazons series (Arthur Ransome) Especially Swallowdale and We Didn’t Mean to Go To Sea, which I picked out on that same trip to England where I first encountered Elizabeth Goudge’s books. Like the Melendy quartet, the Swallows & Amazon books are about a family of very independent, resourceful children and their friends, who camp out by themselves and sail up and down Lake Windermere having adventures – and once, by accident, sail clear across the Channel to Holland.
The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien) I’ve added this with some hesitation because it’s not a children’s book, but I read it first the summer after 5th grade, and read it once or twice a year for the next 15 years. Since my early thirties, I’ve read it at least every two or three years. It’s a huge part of my childhood and young adulthood, and influenced both my worldview and my reading tastes, yet somehow it feels odd to class it with the others in this list.
Selah @ A Bibliophile's Style
Your list is great but it’s the first two paragraphs that I really love! Well said!
Selah @ A Bibliophile’s Style recently posted…TTT: Childhood Favorites to Re-read
Thank you, Selah! I’ll come by and check out your list – there are some wonderful books on this week’s topic!
Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie
You’re the second blog I’ve seen that mentioned The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I don’t know how I forgot it. It was such a good book. The Secret Garden also seems to be pretty popular. That one though, I honestly can’t tell you if I ever read it or just saw a few movie versions. Sad, but true.
Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books from My Childhood
If you haven’t read The Secret Garden, you should give it a try – it’s a lovely book! Try to find one with illustrations by Tasha Tudor; they fit the book perfectly. Thanks for coming by!
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
I don’t need to bother to make a list, you’ve made it for me! With the exception of Swallows and Amazons — I never read those as a child. I’d put in the Oz books instead, which I read innumerable times. I’m actually not sure about The Little White Horse…I think I first read it when I was a bit older. It quickly became one of my favorites though.
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted…Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week is coming in one month!
I see we have very similar tastes! I read the Oz books a lot, too, but I didn’t own very many of them and the library mostly didn’t have them, so it was limited. I actually read more of them in high school, when one of my teachers had a whole collection of them. Now that Books of Wonder has been reprinting facsimiles of the originals, I’ve been collecting some of them and (re)reading them. They are still fun!
Great choices, Lark! I’d love to revisit quite a few of these…and read two that I’d never heard of! 🙂 It’s true that re-reading favorite books is comforting. My husband always laughs when I re-read something (like Pride & Prejudice) and asks “did it end any differently?” once I finish. I’ve been reading and re-reading P&P since 7th grade. 🙂
Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Travel by the Book ~ Cold Mountain/Asheville
That’s great that P&P is a favorite re-read for you! I think when people tease someone about re-reading, they don’t understand the purposes of re-reading. I don’t expect a different ending; I do expect to spend time with characters I like and enjoy. Often, I also gain a deeper insight into the book, the characters, and/or the writer’s ability, and I notice things I didn’t pick up on the first (or third) time around.
Ha, I really should read “My Little Princess” and “The Secret Garden”. I still only know the movies… so shame on me 😛
Windsprite recently posted…Tough Travels -Bards
They are lovely books! And to my mind, they’ve held up well despite being over 100 years old – which is the mark of a true classic.
I do believe, that these are great books 🙂 but I think they just won’t be the next I’ll read 😀
Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
I have never re-read a book but am sometimes tempted for some of these!
Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf recently posted…Audiobook Review: In Her Wake (Ten Tiny Breaths 0.5) by K.A. Tucker
I love to re-read so much, it’s hard for me to imagine not re-reading! It’s a habit I picked up when I couldn’t get enough new books to satisfy my reading addiction; now I keep it up because some books are just so enjoyable, I want to go back!
Danya @ Fine Print
Yes, Anne was a staple in my childhood reading. We were bosom friends! The Chronicles of Prydain definitely hold up to a re-read, in my opinion. They’re so great. I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Goudge but I’ve heard good things!
Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Series Review: Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs
The Prydain books are awesome; I reread them last year and they still work.
Some of my favorites from growing up are on your list! I would love to reread A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the series. I forgot how much I loved the Chronicles of Prydain. Must reread! Thanks for sharing- there are some new to me books here that I will have to check out. 🙂
Jess@Fairday’s Blog recently posted…What Can Ivan Do?
I actually reread the Prydain books last year, and Wrinkle the year before that.