The Biblio File: Favorite Books from Childhood

Every reader has one: a favorite book read in childhood that stays with us to this day. Not necessarily a children’s book; but whether written for children or adults, a book that spoke to us in some way we couldn’t ignore. It awakened our love of words, or transported us to faraway places. Or widened our inner horizons beyond anything we’d ever experienced. A book that made us believe in magic, plumbed new depths of emotion, introduced us to a character who became an old friend. Whatever its enchantment, that book is an old friend, too.

The Write Room authors below invite you to explore some of their “old friends.” To ponder, perhaps recall your own favorite book from long ago…and most of all, enjoy.

—D. M. Pirrone, Editor

D. M. Pirrone writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction. Visit her website at http://www.dmpirrone.net, or check out her work at The Write Room (http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1101).

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Having been first hospitalized with bulbar polio at 6 years old, I missed a lot of school and had much work to do to catch up on reading skills. In fact, reading was a huge struggle for me as a child until the day I read “The Story of Doctor Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting. I will never forget it as this was the first book that I truly enjoyed. Reading this book, I discovered that I had finally learned to read and since the topic was certainly one of my favorites—about animals—it magically guided me into the reading rainbow of book enjoyment. While I did not fancy that I could ever talk to animals like Dr. Dolittle, I vowed at the time to follow in his footsteps and become a healer, a doctor or vet. I did not meet this exact challenge, but I did study the healing sciences as an adult and became a school psychologist, counselor, and later an author on the topic of social sciences and gut instinctual intelligence. Every so often, I check out this wonderful book from the library and reread it. It always renews my feeling of pleasure in reading!

Martha Love writes non-fiction on the topic of the intelligence of human nature and gut instincts. Her book website is http://careerstorefront.angelfire.com.

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Wild

The Book by Kenneth Weene

We had few books in our home. Thankfully, there was a library nearby. I worked my way through the shelves, especially dog stories. Knight and Terhune were my favorite authors. We didn’t have a dog, so those collies became my imaginary pets.

By fourth grade I had run out of books and begged for an adult library card. The world opened. My first pick, and therefore the book that stands out, was Jack London’s “Call of the Wild.” I am sure I didn’t appreciate it fully. I certainly could not recognize the metaphor, the conflict between the possessiveness of love and respect for the nature of the other. Nor could I understand the faux-naturalism of the author. What I could understand and appreciate was that there was conflict and emotion, anger and loss. The world of grownup books was not filled with treacle and cotton candy.

I read on: Dana, Conrad, and my favorite, Steinbeck. As a writer, I strive to bring emotional honesty to my novels. Sample “Tales From the Dew Drop Inn”. (http://mediasuite.multicastmedia.com/player.php?p=aat76pv9). Or listen to “Bender”, a short story. http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/bender

Assuredly, books should entertain, but they must also challenge, not just make us feel good.

Ken Weene writes poetry and novels in addition to short stories. His personal website is http://www.kennethweene.com

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The book that I will always love and remember from my childhood is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis.

I think what makes this story unforgettable is the absolute escapism it presents. I often wonder how many children; myself included, crept into a wardrobe or a closet, closed their eyes, pushed through the clothes and imagined they would find themselves in another world.

Even when it didn’t work out that way the first time, somehow hope never died for me, and I tried again several times. The belief that it was still possible and that one day, one magical day, things would be different never died.

The reactions of the children in the book, when they find this window to a new world, are utterly believable, and although the characters in the other world of Narnia are not human, what makes them so real is their ability to experience and express human emotions.

Just thinking about the book makes me want to read it again. Maybe I will.

Trish Jackson, romantic suspense author, writes about animals, star signs, and the passions, dreams, and tragedies in the lives of country folk in small towns. “Saddle up and follow your stars to a wild read!” Visit Trish’s website at http://www.trishjax.com.

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ChildsGarden

My Favorite Childhood Book by Delinda McCann

“All the names I learned from nurse, Gardeners Garters, Shepherds Purse….” Ever since my mother read those lines out loud to me, I’ve been in love with the outdoors and with A Child’s Garden of Versesby Robert Louis Stevenson.

This wonderful book of poetry about things that interest a child has enriched my whole life by inspiring me to garden, read and travel.  The beautiful descriptions of Stevenson’s England and his sense of adventure called me to “rise and go.”

Those poems taught me to really see the world in all its glorious detail.  Some days when the wind tosses my trees about and blows dust so thick, it’s hard to see, I just have to say, “Who Has Seen the Wind?”

How can I possibly get up early in the morning to go out into my gardens without reciting a line or two from “My Shadow”?  Believe me, there are many mornings before the sun is up, that I’d rather be back in bed with my shadow.

We carry very few treasures from our childhood through life into old age.  An excellent book is one of those treasures.

To learn more about Delinda, visit her web site at http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

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NOBODY’S BOY by Salvatore Buttaci

Oh, how we lived for those afternoons when our Irish nun would read to us about the adventures of Rémi! Left on a doorstep shortly after his birth, mistreated by the mason worker Barberin who had taken him in, Rémi is sold to a traveling artist named Signor Vitalis who travels through France with three dogs named Dolce, Zerbino, and Capi and a  monkey, Joli Coeur. It was adventurous enough in our eyes to traipse through France with Signor Vitalis, but to do so in the company of three dogs and a monkey was the epitome of traveling the golden streets of Heaven!

Nobody’s Boy by Hector Mallot remains my all-time favorite novel. Originally entitled Sans Famille (Without a Family), the 1878 novel, to the delight of so many generations of young people, was translated into English in 1916. Thirty years later my second-grade teacher Sister Rose de Lima introduced Nobody’s Boy to our class.

The book taught me how to appreciate my own childhood. I was not homeless, hungry, fearful of abuse, or loveless. Though I had no dogs nor a monkey, I had two loving parents who provided all I needed in my growing-up years, especially encouragement in writing poems and stories.

Nobody’s Boy also reminds me that many children in the world are not so blessed as I was back then. Rémi suffered hardships that I vicariously called adventures. I didn’t understand until much later. After all, I was somebody’s boy!

Sal Buttaci loves seeing life flash before his eyes. Visit him at 

http://cherryevasquez.tateauthor.com/uncategorized/a-bio-flash-from-sal-buttaci/

***

Sherlock

Elementary by Ron L. Cherry

I was eleven when I first met Sherlock Holmes. He was in a cheap, red paperback that quickly became dog-eared. I was fascinated by this man who was so socially inept, yet analytically brilliant. I remember sitting and working on the code of the dancing men, frustrated that Sherlock solved it before I did. Although that book only had selected cases, they were enough for me to become a lifelong enthusiast.

His clues were always intriguing, like “why the dog didn’t bark” in Silver Blaze. As the Great Detective would often say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Although later I would learn that solutions like a bell pull-climbing snake that answered a whistle were not exactly possible, all of his stories still hold a special place in my literary heart.

When the BBC put out almost all the Sherlock Holmes case collection in a series with Jeremy Brett, I awaited each new release like the original fans awaited his tales in the latest issue of The Strand Magazine in the late 19th century. In fact, Sherlock inspired the methods my detective, Morg Mahoney uses. It is my tribute to him.
R.L. Cherry is a novelist, columnist and raconteur.  Sample his short stories, articles and blog at www.rlcherry.com

 

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17 thoughts on “The Biblio File: Favorite Books from Childhood

  1. Delinda

    Oh I love it! I found a couple books there that I hadn’t read as a child. I must go back and read them. Nobody’s Boy does sound good if it isn’t too close to home for someone who worked with foster children.
    Thanks Diane for a wonderful editing job.

    Reply
  2. Micki Peluso

    I loved Black Beauty. By the time I got out of elementary school I had read every book in the library–okay it was a small school, but it had a big library. If I was outof books I read the encylopedia. I’ve read so many books I can no longer choose a favorite. If I had my choice of writing or reading, I’d choose reading.

    Reply
  3. buzz

    I learned to read very quickly in the first grade, mastering 3rd grade readers while other students in my class were still struggling with Dick & Jane. My father had a copy of Bill Mauldin’s Up Front, a collection of funny but frank cartoons Mauldin drew about combat infantrymen in WWII. The pictures got my attention and I was able to read the captions even if I didn’t fully understand their context. My teacher and the school principal were sufficiently impressed with my new found vocabulary to call my parents and discuss the matter with them…

    Reply
  4. James L. Secor

    I cannot think of a favorite, though I remember Classics Illustrated and The Hardy Boys. I’m sure my mother read to me but I can’t remember. There was a book, now nameless and authorless, that got me so infuriated at age 8 at its awful writing that I decided I could do better. Well, I have; but that guy made more money. Hans Brinker and the Sillver Skates, read while I was in San Antonio, I read more than once over the years. From that day on all I wanted to do was ice skate–and go fast. I didn’t learn until my late 20s and all I could do was go. . .slowly.
    I am jealous of you all as I didn’t have such a favorite. I just read and read–like Mikey of TV commercial fame: I read anything. . .except scifi (Tom Swift). What rot! (I thought)

    Reply
  5. Salvatore Buttaci

    My favorite book was called NOBODY’S BOY by the French author Hector Mallot. Our teacher read it to our second grade class back in 1947, a book written back in the 1800s. Decades later I bought my own copy in a successful book search. I read to my own students years ago and even now sometimes I will read a chapter or two about the orphan boy Rene’ and his adventures.

    Reply
  6. Diane Piron-Gelman

    Thanks to all who sent me such wonderful glimpses of your early reading lives. An eclectic bunch, we are, bound by a love of words and story! The book that stays with me the most from childhood–among many excellent contenders–is A LITTLE PRINCESS, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’ve always been an Anglophile with a thing for Victoriana, so the atmosphere of the book appealed to me. Sara Crewe, with her outsized imagination and love of storytelling, was someone I wanted for a friend. And I especially loved the sense of miracle in it, that lives can be changed by unexpected acts of kindness. I still re-read it sometimes, and I have a copy with the wonderful illustrations by Tasha Tudor that I’m saving for a grandchild someday (my kids both being very boyish boys, who would find Sara’s story too girly).

    Reply
  7. Betsy Ashton

    Sand Dune Pony
    Probably no one remembers this book by Troy Nesbet. My mother let me check it out of the library when I was about five. She or my grandmother would read to me every night before bed. I loved the book so much that Santa finally got the hint and gave me a copy. I still have it. And I have a pic of me in my mother’s lap. I’m about seven or eight and she’s reading it to me. Fond memories. Should I reread it? Yup. Should.

    Reply
  8. Roland Richter

    They weren’t classic literature for certain, but the Tom Swift books 9 both Jr and Sr) opened some doors for imagination. Then Robert Heinlein’s series of science fiction novels aimed at young people finished prying the door open! The first one I read before I even knew who he was was ” The Rolling Stones”. Our school library had a well stocked science fiction section that helped.

    Reply
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