Hello, Reader! In honor of (American) Thanksgiving being this week, I am going to share a few posts about books that I am thankful to have read. Today’s post kicks this off with 5 books I am thankful I read as a child. These were some of my favorite books growing up and played a significant role in shaping how I look at the world. With as much time as I have spent this semester reading and talking about the newest children’s books, I have enjoyed taking a little time to think about the books from my own childhood. I hope you enjoy reading along, too!
1. Happy Birthday, Kit (American Girls: Kit #4) by Valerie Tripp
About: Kit’s tenth birthday is approaching, but the chances of having a celebration are pretty slim. There’s no time to plan a party and no money either, since Dad still doesn’t have a job. When Aunt Millie comes for a visit, Kit finds new reasons to hope. With her thriftiness and good ideas, Aunt Millie seems to be able to do anything — but usually in the most unexpected way!
The AmericanGirl books were some of my favorites throughout most of my elementary school days. When I wasn’t reading the books, I would make up stories about the characters (decades before I knew that fanfiction is a thing) and try to imagine what it was like to live in the different eras their books were set in. Kit’s stories take place during the Great Depression. Somehow, the author managed to write a fun and exciting book about Kit’s tenth birthday even with this backdrop. An abandoned dog, outdoor adventures, and realistic struggles and triumphs make this book a hit that is still worth reading today.
2. The World According to Humphrey (According to Humphrey #1) by Betty G. Birney
About: You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy, is it true! In addition to having FUN-FUN-FUN in class, each weekend this amazing hamster gets to sleep over with a different student, like Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Speak-Up-Sayeh. Soon Humphrey learns to read, write, and even shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course). With lots of friends to help, adventures to enjoy, and a cage with a lock-that-doesn’t- lock, Humphrey’s life is almost perfect. If only the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wasn’t out to get him!
I mentioned this book recently when talking about Wildlife According to Og the Frog, a book I read this semester mistakenly thinking that it would count toward my class reading. The first time I read this book, I had a Golden hamster of my own, and I loved to imagine that he had the same attitude and escapades as Humphrey. Humphrey is smart, good-natured, and always looking for ways to help others. He may have been a better role model than some human characters.
3. Saffy’s Angel (Casson Family #1) by Hillary McKay
About: Saffron Casson has discovered that she’s adopted. The daughter of her mother’s twin, Saffy was brought back by her Grandad from Siena, Italy, when her mom died in a car crash. At Grandad’s death, he leaves something to Saffy: it is her angel. How Saffy discovers what her angel is lies at the heart of this enchanting story.
One year, I somehow earned a free book from a local bookstore. I don’t remember the details now, but for some reason there were only a few books I could pick from (possibly all Sequoyah award nominees?), and I remember not being very interested in any of the options at first. I settled on Saffy’s Angel, and I ended up loving it. I think this was the first book I read set in another country (the UK and Italy) where I really realized it was another country. It’s also the only book I read in my elementary school years that I remember featuring a character in a wheelchair. It also included an adopted protagonist with a unique (but not unrealistic) story. I never went on to read the rest of the series, but this one stuck with me and I have reread it several times.
4. Alison on the Trail (The Magic Attic #6) by Catherine Connor
About: Alison finds herself out in the woods, leading a group of weary young campers. When the girls encounter two hungry bears on the trail, they run off into the forest. Now they’re lost and only Alison can lead them back to safety. How can Alison earn their trust again? Can she find their camp before the thunderstorm hits?
Here’s a random fun fact: the first book that I ever remember writing on a Summer Reading log is the second book of this series, Alison Goes for the Gold. I don’t know why I remember that or why I don’t remember anything with as much detail today as I did then.
Alison on the Trail is about a young girl who goes hiking and has to use a lot of outdoorsy knowledge to get her group home safely. I loved hiking, camping, and spending time outdoors as a child, but it was relatively rare to see that reflected in the books I read. It was nice to see someone else who enjoyed nature and wanted to learn everything she could about it, and from that I have always had fond memories of this book.
5. A Girl of the Limberlost (Limberlost #2) by Gene Stratton-Porter
About: Set amid Indiana’s vast Limberlost Swamp, this treasured children’s classic mixes astute observations on nature with the struggles of growing up in the early 20th century. Harassed by her mother and scorned by her peers, Elnora Comstock finds solace in natural beauty along with friendship, independence, and romance.
My mom and grandma introduced me to Gene Stratton-Porter. Like the protagonist of the last book, Elnora enjoys nature and learning about the natural world. She also has big dreams – well, big for her day, which meant going to high school despite being a poor country girl. I liked the descriptions of nature and overall attitude of the book.
What are some books that you are thankful you read as a child, or that are simply favorites from your childhood?
Until the next chapter,