The Boxcar Children. I discovered this one when I was 11. I had just started at a new school but I was hardly alone. A new area had been pulled into our district and the administration bussed us hither and yon. I spent a lot of time in the library and I can’t even tell you how often I read this particular book. Not the series. I’m not even sure that I knew there was a series. I read the first book again and again. What did I love about it? That these kids took care of themselves without adult interference. Yes, as an adult, I realize just how preposterous this was but as a kid I loved it. They took care of each other without any of that Lord of the Flies nonsense. They found the boxcar and they furnished it on their own. Take a look around my home and you’re going to see a host of found items. My husband tries to be tolerant but he’s the only non-boxcar child in that particular sense. This may be the book that I read the most but there were others as well . . .
Everything by Marguerite Henry. The first book of hers that I owned was either Black Gold or Mustangs. I was truly a horse crazy kid and I devoured these books. I begged for these books. I drove my mother a bit batty with these books (The only photo of my mother on horseback made it very clear that she was only tolerating the horse). I loved that these books were often about real horses although the stories were made up. My family has a strong Southern story telling tradition so even at a young age I got that link between fact on one hand and story on the other.
Jared’s Island by Marguerite De Angeli. Yep. Another kid surviving without pesky adults book. How much did I love this one? Look at the title and you’re going to find my son’s name.
The crazy thing is that as I write this post, I think of book after book. And as I think of each one, I think — ooo, that’s my favorite. What else have I remembered? The Little House books, The Tarzan books (yes the adult fantasy novels), Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Meg Mysteries, my grandfather’s Foxfire books, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
Just as these books shaped me, they shape my writing in subtle ways. I still love stories of kids who do for themselves (where are their parents ask my critique partners). And I love the subtly offbeat (Foxfire? Really?) What were your favorite books?