06 December 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

I love this week's Top Ten Tuesday theme, hosted each week by The Broke & the Bookish.  This week they are revisiting their first ever TTT by asking us to list our childhood favorites.  I spent my earliest childhood in a small mill town in Wisconsin and then later in a small town in MS.  We didn't have a lot of money for books but Wisconsin had an excellent library, which my mother encouraged, and I was lucky to have adults in my life who gifted me with books once I moved to MS (where the library was a joke, sadly).

In no particular order, here are the books that defined my childhood.  I'll use the sixth grade as a rough cut-off point between childhood and adolescence.  Looking back on these now, it's amazing to me that my mom found as many books with strong girl characters as she did back in the 1970s and early 1980s--all the more impressive since she has never, ever self-identified as a feminist.

1. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.  This was a Newbery award winner that happened to be set in Wisconsin.  Naturally I devoured it. 

2. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The first book was also set in Wisconsin, which I loved, and I went on to read all of them, even the icky First Four Years with all of the romance and wedding and baby stuff. A grandmother figure gave me the entire boxed set on my birthday, which I treasured.

3. The Pippi Longstalking books by Astrid Lindgren.  Talk about strong female characters--Pippi was literally the strongest person I knew.  I might have loved the South Seas book best of all. 

4. The Trixie Belden mystery series by Julia Campbell and Katherine Kinney.  Lawd, I loathed Nancy Drew, but Trixie was a tomboy whose mystery solving I could really relate to. 

5. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.  I loved the next two books in the series, too.

6-8. A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle.  I still remember the magic of first reading about misfit Meg, smart but with no way of fitting in. My adult sister gave me these for Christmas the year I turned seven and they helped me understand my world. 

9. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.  I still remember the one-sentence description on the back of my edition: "How Aslan, the noble lion, saved Narnia from the White Witch."  I was instantly smitten.  The same grandmother figure gave me the entire boxed set for Christmas one year, which I read until they fell apart, but the first book was always my favorite.

10.  Not sure what book should go here since nothing else is a clear favorite.  I'll go with Edith Hamilton's Mythology, but it could have easily been Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Maybe some of Walter Farley's The Black Stallion books. 

How about you?  What books are on your list?  Harry Potter would surely have made my list if they'd been written a couple of decades earlier!

NB: I've got a Lauren Oliver giveaway for her forthcoming book, Pandemonium, if you want to click here to enter.


  1. That is impressive your mom was able to find so many books with strong female characters. Kudos to your mom!

    I remember reading Trixie Belden! I had all the Nancy Drews (they were my grandma's and mom's) but I never read them. Trixie on the other hand I could get into

  2. I never read Caddie Woodlawn. Or the Little House books. For whatever reason, anything smacking of 1800s prairie life was automatically dismissed in my mind as boring.

    But Madeline L'Engle YES, and Anne of Green Gables because ANNE/GILBERT. And Pippi Longstocking is amazing.

  3. I love how many people have Little House on the Prairie on their lists. It seems like those books really helped to shape the reading lives of so many girls!

    Fantastic list :-D

  4. Great list. We share some favorites. Pippi Longstocking is truly one of the best!

    My Top Ten!

  5. So many of your favorites are mine too. Heck, I'd forgotten all about how much I loved Trixie Belden. Remember the cheesy, shiny covers, and the cheap paper?

    Love L'Engle, Lewis, Wilder (and what is all the controversy about Rose Lane Wilder writing them?), loved Heidi...wanted to live up in the alps with Grandfather and the stinky goats who made great milk.

    So many favorites.

    Love to you,


  6. I loved the Alcott books, Little women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys, but my very favorite was the Nancy Drew series.

    Here's my post.

  7. Ha ha - is that a Freudian slip, calling it Pippi LongSTALKing?! I had to laugh!

    It's funny just how many "classic" children's books I never read as a child - or still haven't! I've seen the Little House books on several lists, and I didn't read Anne of Green Gables until high school (and I found it a bit dull to be honest - I preferred Jane of Lantern Hill and several others). I still haven't read A Winkle in Time, and I think I didn't read the Narnia books until high school (grade 7), so they didn't count for this list. But I LOVED Pippi Lonstocking! She was the best. And there were so many other books that I loved but only read once and now can't remember what they're called. This is why I don't borrow library books anymore.

    I've never heard of Caddie Woodlawn but she looks like she's a great heroine!

    Thanks for visiting me! I have to go check out your giveaway now...

  8. I still remember weekly trips to the library with my mum and sister too :)

    The only book on your list that I have also loved is Anne of Green Gables. I think I wanted to be Anne a little bit when I first read it.

  9. Caddie Woodlawn! I can't believe I forgot all about that little treasure of a novel. Fantastic choice!

  10. I remember reading A Wrinkle In Time (and those that came after it) when I was about 6-7 and loving it but not really grasping the full story until I reread it a couple of years later. Fantastic books.

  11. I love A Wrinkle in Time! I so wish I could have experienced Anne of Green Gables and Pippi Longstocking as a child. We read Pippi with our kids earlier this year and had a blast!

  12. Never ever heard of the Trixie Belden books! Now I have to go look them up immediately. I confess I loved all the original Nancy Drews, though when the series started changing to be more Ned-focused than Nancy-solves-a-mystery-focused, I stopped reading them.

  13. Pippi Longstalking? I can't believe I spelled her name wrong--I was in a hurry to post this morning before leaving for work, but still!

    I'm a little surprised how many lists Laura Ingalls Wilder has shown up on today. Maybe all of us who watched Little House on tv growing up read the books, too.

  14. I loved Pippi Longstocking. I also have vague memories of a cartoon that may have actually been a movie, but I totally remember the theme song, so probably a show.

    Great list.

  15. Having spent most of my childhood in Wisconsin, #1 and #2 were basically required reading.

    I was a Nancy Drew girl. I loved that she had her own "charge plate" for the local department store, and of course, the titian hair! I guess every girl has their own female super sleuth!

    I also loved the Encyclopedia Brown series. I do love a good mystery!

    Thanks for the great read!


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