Throughout October, we’re going to periodically talk about books because
a) books are rad and b) we’re raising funds for a 5 Kids ComeUnity project, A Girl With A Book,
which will put books in the hands of Kindergarten through
Second Grader boys and girls at Title 1 (high poverty rate) elementary schools.
To learn more and to join our effort, please see A Girl With A Book.
My aunt and uncle kept The Joy of Sex low on a bookshelf in their old Portland home. I found it when I was 11. My cousin, who was 12, and I surreptitiously slipped it off the shelf, stuffed it in my shirt, and tore up the long, wooden staircase — clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp — to her bedroom to pour over the detailed drawings with our eyes wide and our hands over our giggling mouths. We were very sneaky, and no doubt our parents didn’t suspect a thing.
I’m not sure our giddy, shocked delight was the kind of joy the author had in mind when he wrote the book, but, truly, the title delivered. At any rate, The Joy of Sex was, in my preadolescent mind, a much better book than Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Too Afraid to Ask, which my parents kept low on a bookshelf at our house, because Everything You Always Wanted to Know didn’t include any pictures at all and, therefore, was definitely not everything I always wanted to know.
I found Clan of the Cave Bears on my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was in high school. I took it home for safekeeping because my sweet grandmother shouldn’t have access to that kind of trash. That kind of awesome, awesome trash. Eventually, I had to steal the entire series of books from her. For her safety.
I’m a giver.
Or a taker.
Regardless, books opened whole worlds to me, and not just the mildly naughty or nefarious worlds. No; books were my friends. My educators. My confidants. My escape. My solace. My sighs of relief. My open doors. My welcoming arms. My constant companions.
Ah, books. How I love you.
Books taught me I’m not alone, that stories can set us free, and to look for the wild, weird places inside us because those are paths that teach us grace and lead us to each other and help us find our way home together.
So, to honor the books, and to promote books for others, and to steal book ideas from you for my kids, and to pay penance for stealing my grandma’s Clan of the Cave Bears series (which I eventually returned) (a little more dog-earred in certain sections, but whatever), I’d like to share with you my 5 favorite books as a kid.
5 Favorite Books From My Childhood
I Hope My Kids Will Read
1. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgsen Burnett
“Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”
“Perhaps to be able to learn things quickly isn’t everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people…Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked.”
2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
“I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not “true” because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself.” From the Introduction
3. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
“All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.”
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”
4. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
“Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.”
“People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn’t seen some of it.”
“It was foolish indeed – thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of.”
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
“Wild nights are my glory!”
“We do not know what things look like, as you say,” the beast said. “We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing.”
“But a planet can also become dark because of “too strong a desire for security … the greatest evil there is.” Meg resists her father’s analysis. What’s wrong with wanting to be safe? Mr. Murry insists that “lust for security” forces false choices and a panicked search for safety and conformity. This reminded me that my grandmother would get very annoyed when anyone would talk about “the power of love.” Love, she insisted, is not power, which she considered always coercive. To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.” – Madeleine L’Engle on A Wrinkle in Time
Your turn! I’m assembling a list of books for my 8-to-12 year old kids to read.
What’s one of your favorite childhood books… and why do you love it?
Also, because it makes me giggle, what books did you sneak off a bookshelf? 😉
P.S. THANK YOU so very much to those of you who’ve already donated to A Girl With A Book!
So far, we’ve raised $998, enough to benefit one Title 1 school! I’m so proud of us! ESPECIALLY because we’re seeking many, small donations of $5, $10 or $15, which is both harder and awesomer because it requires greater involvement from our whole, amazing community. Please consider joining our effort by 1) making a donation of any size and 2) sharing the campaign with others. Together, we can make a difference in the life of a kid. Because a kid with a book is a powerful thing.