List 5 books that played an important role in your childhood and explain why
I stuck to books I read before the age of ten. When I feel I was still really a child. I could give you a whole different list spanning 11-14, but this list probably covers ages 6 to 10.
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book had tremendous meaning for me because I understood Mary Lennox. I had become an emotionally distant child due to problems at home and I felt awkward in my relationships with my peers. This book was hope. In this book, I found the story of a girl who changed and grew and made friends and found happiness in spite of the struggle it was just to reach outside herself. The impact that message had on me is inestimable. I think it changed who I became as an adult. There isn't really anything greater that a childhood book can do for you than take that extra step into becoming part of who you are. With this book, Frances Hodgson Burnett told me that someday I could be better and more and happier than I was at the time. What a wonderful gift.
The Cricket in Times Square
by George Selden. I just LOVED this book. I had the most deep and passionate love for this book that a child can conceive of. This book taught me to love books. That they were whole wonderful worlds full of people and creatures for me to care about and learn about. I remember being so taken in by the story that I practically held my breath as I read. I still have the same dog-eared paperback I first read tucked away on my bookshelf. It was the first in a lifetime of much loved books.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis. My father sent the entire collection of Narnia books to me as a present. Irnonically, my religious mother knew nothing about C.S. Lewis and thought the word “Witch” was an indicator that the content of the books would be unsuitable. So I found them in the back of a cabinet in our “junk room” - which I was forbidden to go exploring in. And I knew immediately who they must have been from and why she would not have given them to me. I fell in love with Narnia, I understood the "message" and for the first time I took a good long look at just how wrong my own mother could be. C.S. Lewis, however unintentionally, taught me to question authority (and at the time, I remember deciding that my strict mother actually had a few things in common with the witch). I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia hidden in the corner of a spare room, careful never to get caught. I don’t know if this made the books any more magical to me than they were to every other child, but I do know that the entire time I read I was able to vividly imagine a hidden doorway in the cabinet that I had taken those very books from and I would shiver as I read and wish again and again that such a thing could happen to me.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
by Judy Blume. This book told me that it was ok to ask questions about God, something I had been doing for a long time in my own mind but had always felt guilty about. It had never before occurred to me that other people had questions, too. I don’t remember what Margaret learns or decides by the end of the book. I just remember the relief of knowing that God is something that you can think about and search for and that it was ok if everyone else I knew saw him in the stained glass windows of St. John’s Cathloic Chuch and I saw him in the sky and earthworms and the growing things in my godparent’s vegetable garden.
The Hounds of the Morrigan
by Pat O’Shea. I found this book in the school library and remember the cover looked interesting and when I opened it - well, I can only liken the experience to Bastian getting sucked into The Neverending Story in Michael Ende’s much beloved book (which would also be on this list were the list a bit longer). I was IN the book. The hounds chased ME. I was so afraid of the witches. I felt the incredible tension of the children when they were pursued - knowing that you must never run from the hounds or then they would actually RUN after you. This was a book about children but it was also dangerous and dark. Bad things could happen and I read it intently, wondering if “we” were going to make it out the the story alive. I was so taken in by this richly detailed world. I couldn’t find the book anywhere years later and finally ordered a new copy from Amazon - which I am just starting to re-read now.