Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is free choice — we can revisit any previous topic.
Since I missed Childhood Favorites, and I still love good children’s books, guess which topic I’m revisiting? I’ve decided to interpret “childhood” narrowly, and limit the list to books I read before I started middle school. I also decided to list authors rather than specific titles. And since I just couldn’t narrow them down to only ten, you get a bunch more as a bonus!
Here they are, my favorite childhood authors, in alphabetical order:
Joan Aiken: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Black Hearts in Battersea. Alternate history with a touch of fantasy and more than a touch of the gothic. I liked the next two in the series almost as much. And I loved Aiken’s wackier Armitage stories, too.
Louisa May Alcott: Little Women, Little Men, and Eight Cousins. I read all three about the same number of times… which was a lot. And cried over Beth’s death every single time.
Lloyd Alexander: the Chronicles of Prydain. The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King. High fantasy and fabulous storytelling.
L. Frank Baum: The Oz books. I loved my mother’s old copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with its endpapers of black-and-white movie stills. I had a few of the other books in paperback reprints, but for the rest I relied on the collection of a friend of my parents, who had the old hardcovers.
L. M. Boston: the Green Knowe books, especially The Children of Green Knowe and The Treasure of Green Knowe. Magical realism before it had a name, set in England, and utterly enchanting. I recently found out that the house, Green Knowe, is modeled on an actual house where Boston lived. If I ever get to England again, I plan to visit it. (You can read a mini-review of The Children of Green Knowe in my post on Great Winter Books for Children.)
Elizabeth Enright: the Melendy series, including The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb for Two. Charming, wholesome, and lots of fun.
Jean Craighead George: My Side of the Mountain. Meticulously-researched back-to-nature adventure for the under-12 crowd.
Elizabeth Goudge: The Little White Horse and Linnets and Valerians. Both magical books, each in its own way. I reviewed The Little White Horse a month or two ago.
C. S. Lewis: the Chronicles of Narnia. I hardly need to explain why I love these, do I?
Marie McSwigan: Snow Treasure. Brave, resourceful children manage to save Norway’s gold from the Nazis. I was so disappointed to find, as an adult, that the children’s role was fiction, but I still love the book for showing me that even children can do important things. (I wrote a mini-review of the book in my post on Great Winter Books for Children.)
A. A. Milne: Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I’m still a major fan of Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and friends, so much so that for the last few years, my daughter has sculpted small figures of most of the major characters out of polymer clay for my birthday and Christmas presents.
Arthur Ransome: the Swallows and Amazons series, especially Swallows and Amazons, Swallowdale, and We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea. English children’s sailing adventures, with barely an adult in sight.
Elizabeth George Speare: The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Something about Kit’s rebelliousness appealed to me (though I was hardly a rebellious child!) It was also one of the only books I knew with a character who, like me, was Quaker.*
Noel Streatfield: Ballet Shoes. I wanted to be a dancer or an actress, so this novel about three adopted sisters attending a school of dance and dramatic arts in pre-WWII London had me thoroughly captivated.
Margaret Sydney: Five Little Peppers and Five Little Peppers Midway. Late Victorian or Edwardian-era stories about a poor but loving family and the rich boy they befriend. I only had these two (thankfully; I read the others later and didn’t like them nearly as much.) They were dated even then (as opposed to historical) and a bit preachy in the way most 19th and early 20th-century children’s books were, but I loved them nonetheless… probably for their gentle humor as much as for the Peppers’ ingenuity in making do and finding fun wherever they could.
Laura Ingalls Wilder: the Little House books. Almost all the little girls of my generation read these, and loved them. This summer we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Walnut Grove, MN, (Plum Creek, in the books) — completely unplanned since I didn’t even know it was on our route until I saw the signs.
* In case you’re wondering, I was raised Quaker. I’m now in a more mainstream denomination, in part because music is an important part of worship for me, but I treasure what I learned then about following one’s conscience, equality of all in God’s sight, tolerance for others, and most important, listening for the Holy Spirit.