Reminiscing on favorite tales from childhood usually brings up warm fuzzies. Feelings of joy, excitement, adventure, place, love, interest, and warmth (you probably have a few adjectives to add to that list). Lately I have been thinking about the books that helped define me from my youth. There is no doubt I would have become a reader without these titles, since my mother was a librarian and the house never appeared less than exploding with books. Yet these books helped push me forward in reading. They assisted in me jumping into the pool that is story-telling, the lands of adventure, the journeys of self exploration. They not only made me believe in characters and their abilities, but also in the beauty that was creating a great story for all ages to enjoy and cherish.
The first and foremost story for me was Harry Potter, sparked from a 3rd grade teacher reading us the first book aloud and from the first page I was completely and utterly addicted to the story. I remember waiting all through the day for the moment she would read us the next chapter, and then when it was over I could hardly wait to read the second and third and….all the way to book seven, all eight movies and many fan books, mini books, and sheet sets later I am still an avid Potter fan. I will happily admit to owning a full Gryffindor house uniform and a wand and added a tattoo to my leg to commemorate my love for the stories. Regardless of the material objects and ink, I think there is something so remarkable in the way those books allowed me to daydream. They brought me great ideas, stories of my own, games to play with friends, and that I should never be ashamed of my poor vision, shortness, nerdiness, bookwormishness or any other parts of me; because those parts of me could very well save the world from “You-Know-Who”.
On a totally different note Little House on the Prarie was greatly influential over the years my mother read my sister’s and I all of the books. In less of a magic powers kind of way, these stories told me about how lucky I was to live in the age I did, but also how remarkable and commited people were to survival and that terrible circumstances could be overcome without magic powers. This most importantly taught me a respect for the people of the past and their hardships, and is probably a reason why I am a history major.
Back to the fantasy realm, I loved How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head. This books had a habit of scaring me at first when I was little, because who wanted the cute dragon to lose his noggin? Anyway, I think this story taught me the value of kindness, not judging a book by its cover, and that the scariest looking things can be the most wonderful on the inside. I like the idea of embracing gentleness over agression as well, even if the world is agressive to you; one simply has to let their goodliness and light shine through. I have also always wanted a pet dragon and this was probably one of the first stories to convince me what a wonderful idea that would be. Along with the movie Pete’s Dragon my love for the large and scaly has been a lifelong adoration, which explains an interest in paleontology and love of lizards, but ironically not birds.
What books defined you as a kid and today? What books do you like to reread today or share with the kiddos in your life?