Thursday, September 4, 2014

10 (Children's and YA) Books That Have Never Left Me

After my last post I need to write about something lighter, so I'm going to indulge in the "10 Books That Have Never Left You" survey.  Usually, I like to convince myself that I'm too grown to participate in social media surveys, but deep down inside I know that part of me loves them.  And this one's book-themed -- I can't resist.  (Although I'm going to focus on children's lit, because duh.)

So here are my ten books.  Whether I read them as a kid or as an adult, they'll always mean a lot to me.

1. Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Louis Sachar)

This book made quite an impression on me when my second grade teacher, Mrs. Davis, read it aloud to us.  Sachar's absurdism definitely influenced my ridiculous sense of humor, and I'll love him forever for that.  Also, I cherish this book (and its sequels) so much that I got a potato tattooed on my toe.  (You'll have to read all of the Wayside School books to figure that one out.)

2. Secrets of the Mummies (Joyce Milton)

I cringe when I think about how horribly outdated this book is (published in 1984, black-and-white photographs) but it still means a lot to me.  Secrets of the Mummies elicits so many wonderful memories -- my discovery of the joys of non-fiction, my beloved Kindergarten teacher and how she encouraged me to pursue my interest in ancient Egypt, and my friends who read this book with me.

3. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

Yeah, the story's nice and everything, but the real reason I love this book is because, in third grade, it introduced me to my favorite English word ever: orb.

4. Anno's Alphabet (Mitsumasa Anno)

The illustrations are weird and wonderful, and they helped me learn my ABCs.  Every time I think of this book, I'm transported back to my first childhood home on Marron Court.

5. Chickens Aren't the Only Ones (Ruth Heller)

More non-fiction.  It's also the first book I read aloud to someone other than my parents.

6. I Love My New Toy! (Mo Willems)

I'll never forget how much my Pre-K students laughed whenever I read this one.

7. The Legend of the Poinsettia (Tomie dePaola)

When I was little, Tomie dePaola's books were some of my favorites.  Later, examining the problematic elements of his works were what first drew me into the critical study of picture books.  I have a complicated relationship with this giant of children's literature because I'm simultaneously drawn to the richness of his watercolor illustrations, bothered by his well-intentioned misrepresentation of various cultures, and fascinated by the cognitive dissonance that results in me.

8. Chavela and the Magic Bubble (Monica Brown)

This book contains so much beauty: magical realism, vibrant pictures, and the relationship between the main character and her grandmother.  And now it's even more personally meaningful because now I have a sobrinita who, like Chavela, lives for chewing gum :)

9. Niño Wrestles the World (Yuyi Morales)

Possibly the cutest picture book ever?  It reminds me of my dad, who was really into professional wrestling when he was a rascally little kid.

10. Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (Lila Quintero Weaver)

The first graphic novel I ever read!  I appreciate this one because of its atypical (in a good way), refreshing perspective on an important social justice topic, and I'll always associate it with the fantastic time I had at my first children's literature conference.

Well that was fun and gave me all kinds of warm fuzzies.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to remember some books that meant a lot to you when you were little -- it's amazing what kinds of warm memories that children's literature can bring back!

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