There are a number of books that I read as a child that have remained with me to this day…mentally, at least. Since some of their physical forms just couldn’t withstand the ravages of time, ha. And these books weren’t necessarily favourites, although some did fall into that category – but rather books that, in one way or another, had a major impact on me. (And I purposefully avoided Harry Potter, because the dear boy appears on every childhood reading list ever written.)
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
I read, nay, devoured this trilogy when I was 12. And boy, did it leave me disturbed. Not necessarily in a bad way – it was just so thought-provoking and the ending left me utterly bereft. Coming from a rather religious household, it was also the first time I’d encountered subject matter so decidedly anti-religious-establishment, which also left me with a lot to grapple with. For a ‘children’s book, it dealt with so many complex issues in an accessible way. Combined with exquisite worldbuilding and memorable characters, this trilogy gave me food for thought for months afterwards. I think it may be time for a reread as an adult – it will be interesting to see my take on it now, some 15 years later.
I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are.
Sharon Creech is like the Melina Marchetta of middle grade literature. Walk Two Moons was the first book of hers that I read – and I then I promptly sought out everything else she had every written. While I don’t recall the exact plot, I do know it had the perfect balance of family drama and humour, which was what made it such a stand out read.
“How about a story? Spin us a yarn.”
Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. “I could tell you an extensively strange story,” I warned.
“Oh, good!” Gram said. “Delicious!”
And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.
SO NOT A CHILDREN’S BOOK. I saw it on my mother’s bookshelf one day and started surreptitiously reading this forbidden subject matter. Gah. I couldn’t stop myself, even though I knew it was very much not appropriate for my age group, and left me highly disturbed due to the rather horrifying descriptions of child abuse. Can’t say it scarred me for life, however, so I guess it’s all good.
This was my first encounter with WW2 fiction. It was a fantastic combination of historical fact and family drama, told from the eyes of a young girl, which made it easy for me to digest and make sense of the horrors of that particular time. I didn’t realise it was published all the way back in 1971 – which I only discovered now when putting together this post.
I’m beginning to realise that aged 12 was a rather prolific year of reading for me, ha, considering almost all the books on this list I read around then. This is another one of those books I think would be well served by me rereading it as an adult. Again, while I can’t recall specific details, I know it dealt with a lot of social justice issues, and was alternately humorous and heartbreaking.
I read this one at the beginning of high school and – don’t laugh – thought it was very profound! (At the time, okay.) I really enjoyed the ruminations on friendship and all its nuances, along with the focus on growing up and approaching adulthood.
Maybe happiness didn’t have to be about the big, sweeping circumstances, about having everything in your life in place. Maybe it was about stringing together a bunch of small pleasures.
Are there any books from your childhood that stand out – either because you loved them, or because they made an impact on you in some way? Would be great to hear about yours!