Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Books Shaped You?

Growing up, I was a voracious reader. Thanks to my mom and dad, I always had a book in my hands. They read to me every night and usually more than 1 or 2 stories because I was notorious for managing to get many stories out of them. They read to me so much that one night when I was 2 they heard me in my room reading Twas the Night Before Christmas aloud. When they walked in, I was not only reading the book, but I was turning the pages in all the correct places. My mom, a reading teacher, was convinced I head learned to read at this precocious age, until a few minutes later when they realized I'd simply memorized the story because they had read it to me so often.

To this day, there remain some books that have stayed with me. Books that I return to time and again, even as an adult. They shaped me. I wanted to be the heroines in these books and believe they were some of the first feminists I knew.

This all came back to me today thanks to Gourmet Goddess who happened to mention on Facebook this morning that she's re-reading the Little House on the Prairie series. This turned into a discussion about the pro-girl books a bunch of us grew up loving. I suggested we have a summer book club and re-read them and discuss how they shaped us, the gender roles they were subject to, their feminist principles, their relevance to today's girls, and how we'd address some of these books with our daughters, if we had them. And a summer book club was born.

These are the books that shaped me and I hold dear to my heart. Many of them were first read over 30 years ago.

Little House on the Prairie
series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Nancy Drew (and here) series by Carolyn Keene
Eloise: a book for precocious grown-ups by Kay Thompson
Blubber, It's Not the End of the World, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, and Forever by Judy Blume

What books from your childhood have stayed with you?


  1. Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking

    Loved all things Judy Blume.

    Paul Zindel's books: My Darling, My Hamburger, The Pigman, Pardon Me, You're Stepping On My Eyeball, etc. Did anyone else read him?

    The Outsiders by SE Hinton. Yeah, it was about boys but a teenage girl wrote it.

    I Never Promised You A Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg.

    Pentimento by Lillian Hellman

  2. Pippi Longstocking! I forgot about her!

  3. I was giving this a lot of thought yesterday. I found it quite interesting that so many of the books that helped shape me were definitely historical fiction and/or animal related. In addition to the ones listed above, I also loved of the Misty series, the Black Stallion series, the Bed Red series. I also had a book of illustrated classics for kids - Around the World in 80 Days, the Three Musketeers, etc. I started reading fantasy and sci fi rather young, as those were the books we had in the house. But I would say the two books that shaped me the most were Harriet the Spy and Emergence, a sci fi novel whose main character was a pre-teen genuis girl from Wisconsin.

  4. I love reading Guess How Much I Love You to my boys. I get chocked up! I like The Official Preppy Handbook when I was younger. And Tabatha Twitchet, Jumima Puddleduck and Pussin Boots. Glad I found you!


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