My Childhood Library   6 comments

What was your favorite young reader novel growing up?

By the Shores of Silver Lake (Little House on the Prairie Book 5) by [Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams]

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Hard Question

I didn’t grow up in a normal place or with normal parents. My dad (well, both my parents, but especially him) loved to read and he regularly bought books for me that he thought I should read. So I read Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, Litttle Women and numerous books people would consider serious literature right along with the “young reader” books the school recommended. I even had to look up the definition of “young reader” before I could write this blog post. My first thought at the question was My Friend Flicka. Most people are familiar with the movies and think the book must be pretty “young”, but I reread the book a while ago and it was written with adult language. So it’s not an easy question for me to answer. I didn’t grow up with the “young reader” emphasis that most people, including my children, grew up with. My daughter would say Harry Potter series and my son would say Rick Riordan, but they would both say Chronicles of Narnia played a huge role in their early reading life. I read it to my daughter one summer and then she read it to her brother one summer.

What Was My Favorite

So, setting aside the great literature my parents expected me to read to concentrate on the books the schools recommended I read….

My favorite book(s) in that realm were The Little House Books. They hadn’t been made into a television show yet. I didn’t read them in order. I read On the Banks of Plum Creek first. It was a required reading assignment in third grade. It wasn’t the first full-length book I’d read (My Life by Hellen Keller and My Friend Flicka came before). I then read the books that came after and then went back and read the whole series from The Little House in the Big Woods. My favorite of the series is On the Shores of Silver Lake.

Because my parents encouraged me to read books other than what was encouraged by the school, these books were my escape to read “easy” books and while I still enjoyed the weightier volumes, my favorites remain the ones that were age-appropriate for me.

6 responses to “My Childhood Library

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  1. I’ve never considered the Narnia books as young reader books. Sure, there’s fantasy and adventure, but the underlying themes can be quite dark and ‘heavy.’

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    • See I didn’t see that at all probably because I didn’t encounter the Narnia tales until I was in high school. I read them to my daughter over the course of a summer when she was 8 or 9. She had such a great imagination and sense of adventure they were perfect for her. Then the summer her brother was between 1st and 2nd grade, she read them to him (she would have been a 7th grader, I think). She did voices and even drew sketches of what she thought the characters looked like. He says now that he loves to read in part because his sister knew how to make Narnia thoroughly entertaining. I think the movies started coming out the next winter.

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      • You need to consider the source of the comment as coming from someone who thinks they should shelve Nancy Drew for racism because the black characters don’t speak with white syntax. My daughter was all over Narnia. Reading the academic criticism of the work shows Lewis to have mastered what few manage with his ability to weave an entire moral fabric into children’s stories on a grand scale in and the spirit of the great fairy stories which are fantasy and moralistic as well. Aesop, Uncle Remus, Homer, Chaucer, Twain, Shakespeare, the Bible – are they all not fantastic, humorous, and often darkly consequential? In life not everyone gets a trophy. To discover that without being hit over the head with it and be entertained at the same time is a gift.

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  2. I was encouraged to read whatever I wanted, and if I found a word I didn’t understand, ask or look it up. I think you can stifle a mind by saying “that’s too old for you.” As for deeper meanings, you don’t always need to consciously grasp them to get the message.

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  3. I loved the Narnia series and all the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favourite books though were the ones written by Enid Blyton.

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