Books that stay with us for a lifetime

Dear nostalgic reader,

Once a year, our book club reads a children’s book and our young daughters and sons come to the discussion. In the past, we’ve read Charlotte’s Web, Little House in the Big Woods, Anne of Green Gables. This time we read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and met over the weekend to discuss it. As we nibbled on apples with caramel dip and chocolate brownies, we talked about the story. Several of us, including the younger readers, found the repetitive, simple storytelling a little aggravating. But we also liked the humor and adventures that were largely left out of the movie version.

My mom then said she vividly remembers being maybe five years old and my grandmother reading the Oz books to her. She described the delicious anticipation and excitement of discovering them for the first time.

Another book club member then said she had a favorite series of books when she was a child, and it involved a space ship, but she hadn’t been able to find them as an adult. Then when she was at the public library recently, she spotted them on the shelf.

“Now I want to buy them all,” she said.

It happens all the time at the bookstore — we’ll be sorting through used books people have brought in for credit, and one of us will spot a book from our childhood. It doesn’t matter how tattered and worn it is, we have to have it.

The Tawny Scrawny Lion is the picture book that still gives me warm, happy feelings. And The Boxcar Children is the first one I remember reading on my own and having that certain sensation that comes with reading a good book — a sense that you want to crawl into its pages, or that you already have and you never want to leave.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The Bobbsey Twins. Choose-your-own-adventures. What was the book from your childhood that has stayed with you all these years? Do you have a copy on your shelf?




13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. twomomswhohikeinalaska
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 10:42:22

    “The Four Story Mistake” and other books in the Elizabeth Enright series about the Melendy family were among my favorites. Found a newly published version of the series at Fireside Books and gave them to my daughter, who loves them, too! 🙂

  2. Tom Raffensperger
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 11:20:34

    We got to read some wonderful and strange Scandinavian books when I was very young. I loved the Moomintroll books by Tove Marika Jansson, especially “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My” (hur gick det sen) and “Who will comfort Toffle?”(vem ska trösta knyttet). These and Dr. Seuss (and my parents reading with me all the time) are what made me love books.

  3. Christy Thomas
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 15:43:56

    Too many to list and I add more each year. The advantage of being an elementary teacher is being able to read and reread children’s books.

  4. Nathan Dunbar
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 15:46:14

    Like The Boxcar Children for you, Charlotte’s Web was the first “big book” I read and I was so proud. I still have that same copy today and each year still take a much-anticipated journey through its tattered yet beautifully loved pages.

    I also vividly remember (and miss) getting the Frances the Badger books (with accompanying 45s!), Amelia Bedelia, and the sadly out-of-print Old Witch Rescues Halloween. My mom still marvels at how I could read and listen to them over and over and laugh each time as if it was the first. Also The Cricket in Times Square…there are so many! Thankfully in this internet age it’s possible to still find them if I want. Great topic!

  5. Chickaloon Jenny
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 17:31:12

    My son had an excellent 10th grade English instructor who assigned that each student bring their favorite book from childhood to class, read the book to the class, and discuss what about the book made it “favorite.”

    Zack chose “Big Joe’s Trailer Truck” (author ?) because the book had schematics for the parts of the truck, and that Joe had a useful job that included travel. The librarian counted that Zack had checked the book out 17 times in 1 1/2 years.

    When Zack graduated from High School, Nancy – the librarian – gave him his very own copy!

  6. Betty Rachel
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 20:35:50

    From your spaceship loving friend: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet!

  7. Eowyn Ivey
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 04:29:35

    This is wonderful! Many of these books I haven’t heard of, and now I can go look them up. And others, like Charlotte’s Web and the Frances books, I read as a child. Jenny — I love that story about Nancy giving Zack his favorite library book. And thank you Rachel — I couldn’t remember the name of the series you talked about. Seeing the comments here makes me so grateful for all of you, my dear reading friends.

  8. Jeanne
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 05:22:43

    The Ramona books were my favorite along with The Great Brain series. Sadly, many of the Great Brain books are no longer in print which is sad because I get students hooked on them every year and my original copies in the library are getting a little old and dingy! I would love to be able to buy multiple library-bound copies of the whole set (8 in the series).

  9. Sue Mathis
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 09:07:28

    I actually wasn’t much of a reader when I was a kid. My mom and brother, though, were both avid readers. My brother liked the Hardy Boys books and gave me one to read when I was about 10 years old. I loved it! After that I couldn’t get enough of their adventures.Then came Nancy Drew (the Hardy Boys female counterpart). One book even had them working together to solve a mystery. I read the Bobbsey Twins but don’t remember much more than they lived with their aunt and she had a thing about flies and wouldn’t let them open the windows!

  10. Annie Aube
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 12:57:49

    There were so many it’s hard to know where to begin. Lord of the Rings read to me by my father, to this day still my favorite book! Once I could read Chronicles of Narnia, and pretty much anything written by Madame L’Engle especially, Wrinkle in Time, and Swiftly Tilting Planet. Oh, yeah and all the Bunnicula books!

    Its funny you mentioning old books found at the bookstore while sorting, I found one that I had been looking for but never know the name, it was a silly little easy reader called, It’s Halloween written by Jack Perlutsky. Now if only I could get my hands on a cheap version of of the Disney Haunted House book, instead of the forty dollar one I saw on Ebay!

  11. Mr. Baer
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 15:15:45

    “The Yearling” was a favorite and a tear jerker as was “Old Yeller”. Plus I will always remember my Mother reading “Johnny Tremain” aloud as we were driving to the Rockies on a camping trip in the 60s.

  12. RH
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 20:39:30

    I loved the Moomintroll books! I didn’t come across them until later, but Tove Jansson is a wonderful author. Astrid Lindgren is another favorite, speaking of Scandinavian authors — I loved Ronia the Robber’s Daughter when I was eight, especially all the skiing through the north woods. Apparently I have a taste for obscure Lindgren titles, since I never connected with Pippi Longstocking, but the Emil books had me in stitches, and they’re sadly all out of print now.

    I still have most of my old favorite books, but there is one that eludes me. I checked it out from the Swanson library a few times — it was a picture book, I think drawn in pen with full-color watercolor, about a dog (I remember him looking like Scuppers the Sailor Dog) who went to stay with a friend by the seaside. He flew in a yellow hot-air balloon, and made an elaborate sandcastle. Something about that sandcastle with its layers of seaweed and shells and starfish caught in my imagination, but I’ve not been able to remember the title or find it anywhere.

  13. JackieGilpin
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 09:04:37

    The first book I remember co-reading (because I was just beginning to read chapter books) with my cousin was “The Fairy Rebel” by Lynn Reid Banks. I was enthralled and it began my love of the fantasy genre.
    I found it years later and just had to buy it! It sits on my bookcase to this day.

    I also remember reading a series of short stories entitled “A Door in the Air” by Margaret Mahy. My cousin and I would fight over the one copy we had and as we got older lost track of it…until she found it cleaning out her house and I promptly stole it back!

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