Here we go again, you know the drill by now. Thanks to Broke and the Bookish for hosting this wonderful meme. This week's list is very nostalgic, bringing us down memory lane where we reflect on books that we loved during our childhood and would love to read again. I am sure that many would agree with me that as a young kid, you are far less critical and much easier to please when it comes to reading books. In most cases, it is such a joyous and innocent time; the world seems full of adventure and endless possibilities. I remember childhood as this magical time and looking back on it now feels like a dream-world. My loving parents deserve all the credit for introducing me to books at a very young age, often reading to my brother and I before bedtime. After learning to read on my own, I became obsessed with books, reading as much as possible, often begging my parents to buy books every week from the Scholastic Magazine. Does anyone else remember those? It was during the 90's and our middle-school would hand out these weekly catalogs for books on sale distributed by the company where you would circle the one you wanted, convince your parents to attach a check and then in a few days, your brand new book(s) would be sitting on your desk when you came to homeroom in the morning. It was pretty cool. I wonder if they still do something like that in schools nowadays but if they still do, then it's all probably done online. Oops, sorry, I'm babbling again. Ok, one last bit of business before proceeding with this list (promise!), which is that while the meme calls for books that you would want to revisit from childhood, I would not want to do that with some of these titles for obvious reasons--mainly, these books were read with a radically different pair of eyes and frame of mind. So, I'd like to make a slight modification to this list: Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit but probably won't due to their sentimental value:
1. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss: I could haven chosen any number of Dr. Seuss books but opted to go with the underdog (or underfish, whatever you prefer). It also holds a special place in my heart because it was the first book that I can recall ever reading on my own. Even though I didn't realize it at the time, Dr. Seuss was the first author to introduce me to the joys of rhyming and poetry. I always loved this line: “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”
2. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch: Here is another author, whom I could have chosen any number of books to be on this list: 50 Below Zero, I Have to Go!, Mortimer, Thomas' Snow Suit. This was a tough choice but in the end, I decided to go with his most emotionally powerful work. Just thinking about this one makes me choke up. It's absolutely heartbreaking and one of the few books on this list that I think adults would appreciate a little more than youngsters because it deals with parenthood and mortality in such a simple, yet profound way. I dare anyone to read this and not be moved. I can also vaguely remember Robert Munsch coming to my junior school to talk to us kids in the library. I could not appreciate the honor and privilege of being in his presence at the time.
3. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli: I must have been like 6 or 7 when I first read this book and it left quite the impression. The protagonist was one of the coolest kids I had ever come across in a book and the author deals with a lot of important issues too, but not in a heavy-handed or complicated way so that young readers can understand them: racial segregation, poverty, death being the major ones.
4. The Stinky Cheese Man And other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
I grew up reading the standard fairy-tales like most kids but always loved coming back to this hilarious and wacky spoof on them. The illustrations are fantastic and have a surreal quality that is out of this world. Fun, clever and very very twisted.
5. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White: A children's classic. Not much needs to be said about this one. A real tear-jerker and I remember reading it many times and then moping around for days afterwards. I also remember the first crush I had on a girl in grade three was named Charlotte. Somehow reading this book along with my brief relationship with this girl that took place on the playground during recess was connected in my young mind.
Mom: Jason, why are so glum? It's a beautiful day. Why not go outside and play, huh?
Jason: I dunwanna.
Mom: Why not? you better have a better answer than that young man!
Mom: Well...I'm waiting...
Jason: It's Charlotte. We ain't friends no more.
Jason: Girl in my class. I told you about her.
Mom: Oh, I thought you meant Charlotte from Charlotte's Web. You been carrying that book around for days.
Jason: Yeah, I been reading it again. I'm in love with two Charlottes.
Mom: You sure you got enough love to go around?
Jason: Plenty. But how come she don't want to see me no more? We were like best friends.
Mom: Could be any number of reasons. People change, move on with their lives. Find different interests, meet new people.
Jason: Don't make no sense.
Mom: Perhaps it will one day.
Jason: At least I still got the other Charlotte. But why's she gotta die in the end? It's so sad.
Mom: Well, death is a part of life. You'll understand that more when you're older.
Jason: Still don't make no sense.
6. The Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine: Gotta love those taglines: "If Looks could kill..." R.L. Stine must have made a fortune off these books, seriously. As a kid growing up during the 90's, Goosebumps were all the rage and everyone was reading them. I was no exception and spent a lot of parent's money purchasing each new release to add to my collection. The Haunted Mask was always my favorite. It's about this girl who is prone to bullies, buy's a freaky-ass mask during Halloween which ends up having evil super-natural powers to scare people. Problem is, she can't take it off and it starts taking over her mind. Dun dun dun! The premise is all sorts of ridiculous but fun and full of scary thrills for young kids. Here is one of those books that I was talking about in the introduction that would not hold up very well if I were to read it again. But I will not deny enjoying the heck out of this and all the other Goosebumps as an impressionable young lad.
7. I Want to Go Home! by Gordon Korman: This used to be my favorite book of all time. I read it so many times that the pages started to fall out and it is still a mystery as to what happened to my copy. Lost forever. This 1986 Apple PaperBacks edition is also out of print, which is a crying shame because my bookshelf feels empty without it. The protagonist was my literary hero at the time. Rudy is a kid sent to summer camp who doesn't want to be there and devises all these crazy schemes to get sent home. I used to be in Scouts and would often go camping with my outfit during the summer, so it was easy to relate to the story. It is not as if I always had a rotten time on these outings but there were some unpleasant instances that could have been avoided had I stayed home instead. The story is funny as hell (or at least, that is my distinct recollection) as Rudy's rebellious attitude disrupts camp life. The hijinks that ensue between him and the head counselor are a riot. It is highly doubtful that the book would hold up very well if I read it again but will always remain a sentimental favorite of mine.
8. The Witches by Roald Dahl: As a young reader, I read everything I could get my hands on by Roald Dahl. However, The Witches freaked the hell out of me. I read it several times and it still managed to scare me. I couldn't sleep for days. Then I watched the movie with Anjelica Houston and that freaked me out even more. Roald Dahl is a master-storyteller and I could read his novels over and over again without getting tired of them.
9. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: I used to love story-time during middle school. My grade 4 teacher would have us sit down on the carpet and then read to the class. A few chapters a day, maybe more depending on the schedule. This was one of those books and I remember finding the story so intense and riveting. So did the rest of my classmates and we would all cry out in unison for our teacher to continue reading when he said it was time to do something else. Oh, the good ol' days...
10. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: The quintessential teenage-angst novel. I read this one at 14 or 15 and my world was never the same. The problem is, I would probably hate this novel if I read it again. Salinger is still one of my favorite authors but Catcher in the Rye belongs to a certain time and place in my life, nor would I be able to relate to it in the same way. Still, it's a classic for a reason and should be read by everyone at least once in their lifetime, preferably during their teenage years.
And that's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed my list. Would any of these titles make your own personal list? I would like to know some of your childhood favorites so feel free to leave a comment below.