Books I Read as a Kid

In the midst of all this reading for my new children’s book writing career, I got to thinking about the books I read as a kid. I started compiling a list of the titles/authors I remember reading, whether for pleasure or for school. I included the list below- it is by no means exhaustive, nor in any particular order, just whatever popped into my head in a 15 minute span of thinking about it. 

I left the world of actual kids books pretty early on. As I don’t really remember reading many contemporary things or having a ton of choice. I also was a very early reader and was always way above my grade level. I remember trying to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie and Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitter’s Club, and I just couldn’t get into them, because the writing was too basic, too easy.

I might venture to say my first adult book, then, was The Client by John Grisham. I remember so clearly coming upon this book. I was babysitting my next door neighbors kids. Upstairs on the landing, were shelves and shelves of books. Most of which were romance novels- the kind with the ridiculously attractive couple on the cover, usually not wearing any clothes. I would flip through some of these, and scan a few paragraphs, my 12 year old self not fully comprehending what I was reading. Mixed in were also a bunch of law books, as they were both lawyers. Then I happened upon John Grisham’s The Client. I think the movie must have just come out, as I remember the cover with Susan Sarandon on it. Anyway, I started reading and was hooked. I didn’t finish it that night, but the next day I checked it out at the public library and finished it that weekend. I then proceeded to read every John Grisham book I could find. I’m not sure why I enjoyed reading his books so much, I had nothing in common with any of the characters, settings or stories taking place in his novels, nor did I know anybody who seemed like the characters in his books. But perhaps, they were for me, an escape from my often sheltered and ho hum existence at the time. They were exciting, and thrilling. And showed me a different world, from the one I was living.  

I don’t know that I have too many books that I would say shaped my life as a kid. I did read a lot. But I don’t necessarily remember putting a book down and saying wow, that spoke to me. As an adult, it happens a lot. 

I spent a weekend reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott shortly after seeing the 1994 movie. I clearly remember crying when Beth died and ultimately loving the book. But I recently reread it as an adult and was surprised to find I hated it. I didn’t cry when Beth died, I didn’t like Jo nor feel any relation to any of the characters. I was and am still upset by this, as I so clearly remember loving that book. But maybe my eleven year old self saw something in the book then, that my 36 year old self could no longer relate to. I wonder if this will prove true when I finally get around to rereading the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. I loved those books, and the courageous, free-spirited nature of Anne. Someone I always wished I could be. If they don’t live up to my remembrances of reading them as a child, I think once again, I will be disappointed, but then maybe that is a sign of growth, maturity, of having lived in the world. 

On the other side of this, is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. A classic of great American literature, which I was forced to read in my high school English class. I truly hated it, it was absolute torture. I didn’t understand what it was about, the characters were whiny and meaningless to me. Along with just about every other classic American literature we read from John Steinbeck to J.D. Salinger- none of which I enjoyed. However, The Great Gatsby is one that I did reread as an adult, shortly after seeing the new movie version with Leonardo DiCaprio. I figured since I liked the movie, maybe I needed to give the original source material a second look, this time, through the lens of an adult, rather than a 16 year old kid. Turns out, it truly is a great American novel and maybe this time, it was because I had lived, had seen how others lived, and could understand Gatsby’s desires. I could finally, understand the commentary that Fitzgerald was saying about American society that transcends time. 

I am truly loving reading all the literature that is out there today for the kids of today. And I often wonder, had I had access to these kinds of books, with characters that looked and thought and came from the places that I do, would my life path be different? Would I be different in terms of my thoughts and interactions and view of myself? 

The List

Anne of Green Gables series, L. M. Montgomery (Pleasure)

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (Pleasure)

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White (School)

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell (School)

A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett (Pleasure)

Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks (School)

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell (Pleasure)

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (Pleasure)

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (Pleasure)

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (School)

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (School)

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (School)

The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (School)

The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Beverly Cleary (School)

Matilda, Roald Dahl (Pleasure)

James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl (Pleasure)

BFG, Roald Dahl (Pleasure)

The Witches, Roald Dahl (Pleasure)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl (Pleasure)

 Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (Pleasure)

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (School)

Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (School)

All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (School)

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (School)

Isabelle Allende (Pleasure)

John Grisham (Pleasure)

Sue Grafton (Pleasure)

Michael Crichton (Pleasure)

The Godfather, Mario Puzo (Pleasure)

Sue Miller (Pleasure)

Flowers in the Attic, V.C. Andrews (Pleasure)

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (School)

Order A Walk Through the Redwoods

If you loved this book review, you might also enjoy my debut picture book, A Walk Through the Redwoodsillustrated by Natalia Bruno. You can order it now from your favorite bookstore: Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble.