My Favorite Childhood Books

My Favorite Childhood Books

Lissa Rovetch

I loved stories when I was little, but I didn’t love reading, so my favorite thing in the world was being read to. That way I could completely lose myself in the pictures on the pages. My mother had a particularly mesmerizing voice and an uncanny ability to bring the characters to life. My thirst for bedtime books was unquenchable, and books on tape were yet to be invented. So my mother began recording my library books onto our gigantic old reel-to-reel tape-recorder. After reading a book or two – or three, she’d push the start button, and I’d drift off as the stories played on.

Looking back at my early favorites, I see qualities in the writing that I still love: Great word rhythm, compelling plot, heartfelt emotion, and a wonderful sense of humor. The illustrations were always just as important as the writing to me. I spent hours examining the tiniest details, and often tried to copy the drawings.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Dr. Seuss’s poor little Mack who saved his whole community with a burp.

“But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand, and started to order and give the command, that plain little turtle below in the stack, that plain little turtle whose name was just Mack, decided he'd taken enough. And he had. And that plain little lad got a bit mad. And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing. He burped! And his burp shook the throne of the king!”I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories by Dr Seuss

I loved Frances - Russell Hoban’s deep thinking badger cub who made up songs that expressed her feelings when she encountered difficult situations, like eating eggs for example.

“I eat as well as I am able, but some falls underneath the table” Frances, Egg Thoughts and Other Frances Songs by Russell Hoban

I also loved Edward Lear’s poems for their great rhythm and sheer silliness.

“The Pobble who has no toes had once as many as we; When they said "Some day you may lose them all;” He replied “Fish, fiddle-de-dee!" And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink Lavender water tinged with pink, for she said "The World in general knows there's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!The Pobble Who Has No Toes by Edward Lear (1812 - 1888)

I never outgrew my love of picture books, but eventually added E.B White’s wonderful Stuart Little and Dick King Smith’s Babe the Gallant Pig to my collection of favorites.

Today Roald Dahl’s BFG, about a clever girl and a big friendly giant, Margaret Mahy’s Great Piratical Rumbustification about a fearless librarian and a band of funny pirates, and William Steig’s Dr. DeSoto, about a mouse dentist and his wife who outsmart a fox with a toothache probably top my list.

Check out an article on where 10 authors (including yours truly), share some of their favorite books from their childhoods.