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We all have those books from our childhood that influenced us or even shaped us into the adults we are today. When I started putting this list together, I was surprised at how easy they all came back to me. Starting with the picture books I remember my mom reading to me up to the books that I would sneak and read during class in middle school, these are the top ten books that influenced me in my childhood and young adulthood.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
This book is the earliest memory I have of my mother reading to me. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare compete to see who loves who the most. It is such a sweet story to share with a little one you love. When I had my son it was the first book I bought for him.
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
I am not sure where I first encountered this book, but the story of the little fish who gives away all of his beautiful, glittery scales in order to make new friends has stuck with me. It has a great message about giving to others.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It actually surprised me that this book came to mind when I was contemplating this list, but I remember really enjoying it as a kid. The Ingalls family’s everyday life on the prairie was somehow captivating to me at that age. I still tend to recommend this series to children looking for historical fiction.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
I distinctly remember this story as my first experience with an audiobook. I was in the fourth grade and we listened to the book on tape as we followed along in physical copies. I remember the fantasy aspects of this well-known novel really having an impact on me at the time; along with the audiobook narration, this story came to life for me.
Are you there God, it’s me Margaret? by Judy Blume
I discovered the amazing work of Judy Blume at the age when life starts rapidly changing. Are you there God, it’s me Margaret? has controversial themes like religion, puberty, and sex. Because of this, it has been frequently challenged as inappropriate for young readers. But as someone who read this during my preteen years, I think this book provides an important resource for girls with questions about the changes that take place at that age.
Blubber by Judy Blume
Another influential book by Judy Blume, Blubber, may be the book that impacted me the most as a child. Bullying has become more talked about in recent years but it is not a new concept. This book tackles this tough issue when a heavy set girl named Linda is nicknamed “blubber.” This book hit home for me as a child who struggled with weight gain.
Holes by Louis Sachar
I actually read Holes after seeing the movie adaptation in middle school. I don’t know how I missed out on the book up until then but it is so much better than the movie. I wish I had been able to experience the story in book form first, but the impact was still there.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
There isn’t much to be said here. I was a child in the era of Harry Potter and these books, especially the first in the series, made me love reading even more then I already did. My experience with these books is similar to so many others my age, and kids are still being entranced by them today.
The Body by Stephen King
In stark contrast to the rest of this list, the next two books are of the horror variety and are both written by Stephen King. Stand by Me was my favorite movie from around the age of 10 and to feed my obsession my mom introduced me to The Body, the short story that the movie is based on. This story is not as scary as most of Stephen King’s work, it is much more about a group of best friends coming of age together. I still love the movie and the story and will revisit them periodically.
IT by Stephen King
Once my mom introduced me to Stephen King I was hooked. He is her favorite author and quickly became mine. I read IT around the age of 12, too young probably, but the kids in the story are around that age and I identified with them. That said, the book terrified me and kept me up at night on several occasions. The 1990 TV movie with Tim Curry was also a favorite of mine. I just recently saw the remake that came out this month and it was scary, fun, and the kid actors are amazing.
So there you have it, my childhood in books. What books defined your childhood?