Ten Titles That Have Stuck With Me (narrowed down to books read when I was under 12). And, of course, annotated because I am avoiding grading papers. This is much more fun to think about!
1. Dr. Seuss' Sleep Book (The drawings were packed full of imagination. We always laughed at the creature with a tail so long that he could bite the end of it at night and the pain wouldn't reach his brain to wake him up until morning. My absolute favorites were the creatures who brushed their teeth under a giant waterfall.)
2. Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster (I listened to this being read out loud on public radio after school for several afternoons, then read it to myself more than once. It was such a crazy, nonsensical story that totally made sense. When Jack and I read this together a few years ago, we laughed out loud many times and I caught all sorts of great word play and meaning I'm sure I missed as a kid.)
3. Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Meg was so courageous! This was another book I got even more out of--especially on a spiritual level--when I read it as an adult with Jack.)
4. Ginny and the New Girl by Catherine Woolley (I so completely related with Ginny, who lacked confidence and had to figure out how to deal with her best friend Geneva cozying up to the new girl and leaving her behind. I read more than one book in the Ginny series, but this is the one that stuck with me most. I'm not sure I applied the lessons Ginny learned very well in my own life.)
5. Hugo and Josephine by Maria Gripe (A wonderful friendship story and a surprisingly sophisticated exploration of what it means to be outside the norm but to be okay. Hugo was poor and quirky and oblivious to what anyone thought about him; Josephine was poor and desperately wanted to fit in. And, Sweden!)
6. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I reveled in how resourceful her family was, I loved the way she knew her own mind, and I envied the way they kept moving on to new beginnings. I often wonder why we are still living in the same house we've lived in for twenty years.)
7. Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting (The talking-to-animals part was okay, but what I really got into were all the far-flung adventures!)
8. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (I read this in the sixth grade and it made a huge impression on me, but I didn't remember specifically why until I re-read it this past year with a group of inmates at the jail. I don't know if I loved the book because it reflected my belief that we need to see others as complex rather than as preconceived stereotypes or if it shaped my belief. Maybe it was a little of both.)
9. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Again, I loved the main character's courage and resourcefulness. I read this book with Jack as well, and was so struck that the tragedy that left her alone on the island might have been avoided altogether if her people had shared an unexpected bounty rather than keeping it all for themselves. I don't remember understanding that when I was a kid, but it may have helped shaped my belief that if we are generous with whatever we have, it will come back to us multiplied, but if we are selfish, we risk losing more than we imagine. Btw, that belief becomes stronger every time I learn it again the hard way.)
10. And last, but not least, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Louisa May Alcott, aka Jo, was so real to me as I grew up in her neck of the woods. The house we lived was built before she was born. I used to imagine that maybe she'd known the people who lived in our house, and that maybe she'd even visited them there. I utterly adored her independent spirit!
Okay, I can't help but add a bonus title. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (Because Pippi.)