Recently, I finished reading the Harry Potter series for the first time – yes, you read that correctly. I’ve read bits and pieces of it over the years, but I finally purchased the set and read all seven books from start to finish. And I was left wondering, why the heck didn’t I do this sooner? Honestly? I’m not sure why I never jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon. I was in the right age group, being about 12 when the first book was released. I always liked the fantasy genre as well, so I’m not sure what my pre-teen and teenage selves were thinking. Maybe since the series was coming out when I was also starting to discover the world of adult fiction? And of course at 12 and 13 the adult section at the library is like “ooooo! shiny! new! i’m so grown up! more books!”
Whatever the reason, I’m late to the party, but I finally got around to catching up on the fantastical and so well written world of Harry Potter. And I’m so glad I did. I absolutely loved the series, and I won’t let my kids wait so long to read it.
Reading this series did take me down memory lane, and I found that I’ve spent days trying to recall what sorts of books I read as a kid, before the discovery of the shiny books in the adult section of the library. There’s still a few old favourites on my bookshelf. A Goodreads search brought up a few more. I wish I had been better at keeping reading logs as a kid – I would love to take a look at them now.
I came up with a list of several of my childhood favourites to share, but I’m sure I’m missing some. What were some of your favourite childhood reads way back when?
(This ended up being an appropriate post for today, as K has been very excitedly telling me all about the first chapter book he finished by himself last night).
Goodreads Summary: Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.
Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges.
Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.
What I Remember: I remember re-reading this book several times in Grade 5, just so I could pretend I hadn’t finished it because I didn’t want to write the book report on it. But it was a fantastic survival story, and it’s one I’ve read again more recently. It’s still a great story all these years later.
The Babysitter’s Club Series by Ann M. Martin
Goodreads | Amazon
Summary: There isn’t a summary on Goodreads for the series as a whole, but honestly who needs one? We all know that Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Ann, Dawn, Mallory and Jessie were the be all, end all of our childhoods.
What I Remember: I remember devouring any Babysitters Club book I could get my hands on. I remember trying to start my own club (who didn’t?). And I remember the movie (of course!).
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Goodreads | Amazon
Goodreads Summary: In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.
This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
What I Remember: I loved the survival aspect of this book and how Karana lived for years on the island before she was rescued. I think I read it for school in Grade 5 or 6. I remember reading and enjoying Zia, the second book in this series as well. I have this one on my shelf and I’m feeling like it might be time for a re-read.
Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O’Dell & Elizabeth Hall
Goodreads | Amazon
Goodreads Summary: It is spring of 1877 when fourteen-year-old Sound of Running Feet, daughter of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, sees white people panning gold in the little creek that feeds the Wallowa River, and brings word of them to her father.
“They are the first, but more are on the way,” he says. “We are few and they are many. They will devour us.”
It is Sound of Running Feet who narrates the story of her tribe’s fate. Readers will be gripped as she shares with us her respect for her father, her love for handsome Swan Necklace, and her destiny.
What I Remember: There’s a very battered copy of this book sitting on my bookshelf. I read and re-read it so many times and it was one of my most favourite stories. I was a big Scott O’Dell fan as a kid – I think I read every single book of his that I could get my hands on.
Nine Days Queen by Karleen Bradford
Goodreads | Amazon
Goodreads Summary: At fifteen years of age, upon the death of her cousin, Edward, Lady Jane Grey was forced to accept the crown of England. She was queen for only nine days, however. Edward’s eldest sister, Mary, soon challenged Jane for the throne, with tragic results. This is the true story of a bright and intelligent young woman who was manipulated and betrayed by the ambitious people who surrounded her.
What I Remember: I remember reading this book and then developing a slight obsession with England in the 14- and -1500s. By the time I hit high school, I was reading a lot of Jean Plaidy and whatever else I could get my hands on that was from the same era.
On Fortunes Wheel by Cynthia Voight
Goodreads | Amazon
Goodreads Summary: Birle has agreed to be wed to the huntsman Muir as an escape from the drudgery of life at her father’s inn — but the moment she looks into the bellflower blue eyes of the man she comes upon stealing one of her father’s boats, Birle knows she cannot marry Muir. Even after she discovers the mysterious stranger is Orien, a Lord and as unreachable to an innkeeper’s daughter as a star, Birle is determined to travel with him as far as he will allow.
Their travels take Birle to a world far from home, a world where Lords may become slaves, where Princes rule by fear, and where Fortune’s Wheel turns more swiftly and dangerously than Birle could have imagined.
What I Remember: I loved the journey in this story – Birle’s growth through the book and the adventure both. I can’t remember details from the story (I’ll need to go back and re-read it now!) but I remember being carried away to a different world when I read it.
Gosh, the more I think about it, the more books I come up with. Here’s a list of Honourable Mentions:
Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell
Looking at the Moon by Kit Pearson
The Sky is Falling by Kit Pearson
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Do you remember any of these books from your childhood? Or were you a different generation and have a whole different set of memories?