What are the books that shaped your childhood? Did you enjoy reading as a child? I was (still am) obsessed. The books that you read as a kid play a huge part in shaping you as a reader, as does every book you read. Sentimental value goes a long way. Sometimes I find myself re-reading a childhood book, realizing all the flaws in it, but loving it all the same just for the memories.
Here are the first 5 books (part 2 to come) that made me love reading as a child, up till about the age of 13. And yes, I counted a few book series, because it was too hard.
1. HIS DARK MATERIALS series by Philip Pullman
Seriously, this blog would not be here if it wasn't for this book. I read this when I was 11, and feel as if I've been chasing a high ever since. And I'm not sorry for that creepy analogy. I'd always loved reading, but the His Dark Material series, comprised of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, completely changed me. Northern Lights is hard to get into and starts slowly, and the movie was utterly disappointing, but it's so, so worth it. I cried at the end of the last book, and when my family went on holiday to Oxford many years later, I went to the Oxford Botanical Gardens, found a bench, and sat on it with The Amber Spyglass clutched in my hand. If you don't understand the reference, you need to go read these NOW.
2. ARTEMIS FOWL series by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl! So clever and hilarious. These books were so much fun, and Artemis is probably one of the most likeable boy genius/villain/pre-teens around. When this was released, the only real competition he had was Mr. Harry Potter himself, and Colfer really made Artemis worthy of the comparisons despite their differences. It's been wonderful growing up with the Artemis Fowl books and seeing him grow as a character. Despite a few hiccups (let's just pretend The Lost Colony never happened, okay?), the Artemis Fowl books are some of the most consistently funny and entertaining ones I know. The final book, The Last Guardian, comes out July 2012, and I will BE THERE. Although come to think of it, I do recall The Opal Deception being announced as the last one, and here we are, 3 books later... Not that I'm complaining.
3. TANGERINE by Edward Bloor
Tangerine is the story of Paul Fisher, a legally blind (he still has sight, but has to wear really thick 'coke-bottle' glasses) middle-school-aged boy who moves to the small, citrusy town of Tangerine, Florida. He joins the soccer team. He makes new friends. He has an older brother, Erik. At the core of this story, buried beneath rich-vs-poor awkwardness with his new friends, lessons on grafting fruit trees and the novelty of being a blind goalie, is the relationship between Paul and his brother. It's hard to explain the impact this book had on me. It doesn't have a particularly enticing cover or description. But it is so strikingly familiar in its portrayal of family, shame, and forgiveness, and it remains one of my favorites.
4. MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
I read this in the 6th grade. This was probably the first book I read where romance was a big part, and surprisingly, it was required reading at school. My teacher, in a rather sexist decision-making tactic, assigned all the girls this book while the boys read The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Synder (equally brilliant). And it's so good! I don't think I'd ever have heard of this if not for her, so Ms Smith, I am forever grateful. Set in ancient Egypt, it is the story of Mara, a slave girl, who manipulates her way out of bondage and becomes a spy for both sides of a royal political struggle between Hatshepsut, the Queen, and Thutmose III, her brother. She finds herself falling for Sheftu, Thutmose's best friend and advisor, stuff happens, people get trapped in pyramids, she befriends a Babylonian princess, etc. All while trying to hide her slave background. This book is exactly what I hope for in a lot of recent YA books, and never get.
5. THE PRINCESS DIARIES by Meg Cabot
I still laugh when I read these books. While the last few books were meh, these books were sort of like the equivalent of your favorite teen drama - and not even a guilty pleasure, because they were so funny. I loved all the characters, even the supporting ones, and I loved Mia and Lilly's friendship before (spoilers) Mia suddenly became popular and fashionable and Lilly ridiculously started a hate site dedicated to her and Mia and all her friends got into every single Ivy. Mia was easy to relate to, the heavy pop culture references were entertaining, and the drama was a lot of fun before everyone became ridiculously successful and perfect (like Michael, who built an amazing surgery robot arm in just 2 years to prove his worth. Although I guess this is drawing the line at weird places, since Mia is a long-lost princess and all...)
There you have it! Those are 5 of my top 10 childhood books! I would love to hear yours! :)