• Kara C White

New Childhood Favorites

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

I loved to read nearly as soon as I learned how to read. I remember the pride and excitement I felt after reading a book all by myself for the first time. It was Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. I was so thrilled, I ran downstairs to share the news with my mom.

I remember reading in my room, pulling book after book from the shelves my parents had made for me out of four yellow milk crates stacked in a 2 by 2 grid. I remember reading on the couch while my mom made dinner. I remember how thrilled I felt when I got a new book at the bookstore. I would risk the nausea of motion sickness to start reading in the car on the way home. My mom would tell me to stop so I wouldn't finish the book before we even reached the house!

I soon amassed a list of favorites. I adored The Berenstain Bears in all of their adventures. I was a pioneer alongside Laura Ingalls in the children's books chronicling her life. I walked with Anne of Green Gables and climbed the heights with Heidi. I held the dark secret that Jo was not my favorite March sister. I also read more contemporary works. I considered myself a "silent partner" in The Babysitter's Club. I was an occasional student at Sweet Valley High.

I couldn't wait to share my love of books with my own children, and I have not been disappointed. We've gotten to share some of my best book friends. I firmly believe in the power of story and the benefits of reading aloud (read more about that here). It's been such a fulfilling experience to introduce them to the books I loved.

However, I've found an even more rewarding surprise tucked on the bookshelf. We've been able to discover together books I never read as a child and might never have picked up had it not been to read with them. I somehow escaped my entire youth without ever reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I loved this book from the first chapter. My children and I laughed together over the clever, playful wordplay that makes this book so distinctive.

We've also read together books written much more recently. We adored the lovable characters in the Toys Go Out trilogy by Emily Jenkins. We saw the world, and learned a little on the way, with the Race the Wild series by Kristin Earhart.

In the end, my plan to share my childhood favorites was at best incomplete and at worst quite short-sighted. There's still a world of books, old and new, to find alongside my children. My son read A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park about a year ago. When he finished, he told me, "Hey, Mom. It was really good. You should read it." You can't pass up a recommendation like that! Thanks to my children, I now have a list of new childhood favorites.

What books did you love as a child? What books from that time did you share with your children or other young people in your life? What books did they share with you? Happy reading!

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