A few weeks ago, my mom unearthed a box of old children’s books that once belonged to me, my older brother, and my younger sister. When I think of books from my childhood, I often go back to the books I read in late elementary and middle school (Harry Potter, Philip Pullman, Wizard of Oz). The books from this box, though, were mostly picture books and early chapter books: relics from much earlier that I hadn’t thought about in many years. But memories of them returned easily, and I realized just how much these very early books shaped my reading life.
Sarah’s Unicorn by Bruce and Katherine Coville is one of the first fantasy books I remember reading on my own. I read it over and over, and I’m pretty sure it’s why I was so enamored with the name Sarah for a while as a kid (that and the fact that it means “princess”). While my love for unicorns has faded somewhat, my love for fantasy and magic has not.
Big Sister and Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow is a classic that I didn’t realize was a classic until I became a librarian. I have a little sister myself, and when we were little, she was fairly blonde. The relationship depicted in the book mirrored ours in some ways. I remember reading this book out loud, recording it on a cassette tape.
My parents would often give us books as gifts. I love that they included notes so I could look back as an adult and know when they were given to me. This version of Thumbelina is gorgeous and helped make me a lover of fairy tales. This book was actually not in the box; I’ve had it in my possession uninterrupted. (I have enjoyed it for many years, as my mom hoped.)
I don’t think I had problems eating my peas when I was a kid, but maybe this book indicates otherwise. Also, Nellie is a major carnivore. That girl claims she would eat all of those animals on the front cover. They are not her friends, people.
This is another book I’ve had in my possession uninterrupted, but I thought I’d include it here because the note is so great. Trevor Romain is an Austin author, and my dad (if my memory isn’t faulty) got this book for me at a signing when I was around seven. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to write and didn’t want to be A Writer. I love that Trevor Romain wrote such a nice, personal note for a little girl who was just getting started herself.
I devoured the Amelia Bedelia books as a kid. They definitely helped foster my love of puns and wordplay.
I’ve always thought marginalia was interesting (both in my own books as well as complete strangers’). It looks like I was practicing writing an uppercase J in this book.
I remember reading Let’s Trade by Harriet Ziefert a lot as a kid, but I honestly don’t know why. It’s a completely message-driven book. The girl kind of looked like me; maybe that was it? Who knows. I just read everything I could get my hands on, probably.
This book, called New at the Zoo, was super fun! It was divided into two halves, and you could mix and match the upper and lower parts of the animals to create entirely new ones. And it’s a pop-up book! Endless hours of amusement.
This one actually belonged to my brother, but I had to include it because I’m sure I read it too – along with all of the other Choose Your Own Adventure books I could get my hands on. My 6th grade teacher was super cool and gave us an assignment to create our own Choose Your Own Adventure book as part of our language arts class. Mine was historical fiction about the Titanic. (Yes, the movie had just come out.) There were not many endings where you lived, just so you know.