Books have always been a big part of my life – mostly thanks to my mom, who also loves books and has always encouraged me to read. I honestly can’t recall a time when I wasn’t reading books. I thought that it would be fun to reflect back to my childhood and share with you some of my favorite novels I read when I was very small. I’m pretty sure a couple of these were read aloud to me by my mom, but a grand majority were books I read myself. Some of these I can’t even recall the plots of, I just knew my tinier self was obsessed with them for some reason or another.
Also I’m not including Harry Potter in this, because DUH of course little Sarah was obsessed with Harry Potter! How could I call myself a bookwormy if I hadn’t read them?! I thought it would just be silly to include it here.
And now, without further ado, let’s begin!
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (aka The Secret of NIMH) by Robert C. O’Brien
This was (and still is) one of my favorite movies of all time, but I do know that I read the book first. I’m about 99% sure my mom read it aloud to me first, but I definitely picked it up a bit later on and read it to myself again when I was a little bit older. I did that a lot. I honestly want to go back and re-read this sometime soon, because I don’t really remember the book at all. The movie is a lot more vivid in my memory (and even that I haven’t seen in years…)
The Tales of Dimwood Forest by Avi (series)
Oh hey, more books about mice! I loooooooooved this series when I was younger. I can vividly recall being really obnoxiously excited to find Ragweed (the prequel to the series) at the library and staying up really late at night reading it. (Actually I recall staying up reading late into the night a lot when I was younger, but because my concept of ‘staying up late’ was a lot different then that it is now I was probably only staying up past 8:30ish reading…)
The series is (in order) Poppy, Poppy and Rye, Ereth’s Birthday, and Poppy Returns (with Ragweed as the prequel). I’ve read and loved them all deeply. I unfortunately don’t remember the plots to any of them… Aside from little snippets I’ve heard when my mom read Poppy and Ereth’s Birthday aloud to my younger sister recently. I enjoyed the little snippets I heard. I love this series.
(EDIT: I recently came the attention that there is a FIFTH BOOK IN THE SERIES. It’s called Poppy and Ereth and I’m freaking out because I never read it or even knew it existed and now I need to cancel everything and read it so that my childhood can be complete.)
Anything by Beverly Cleary
I’ve probably checked out every Beverly Cleary book the library children’s section had because I loved her books. We still own a bunch of her books as well. The Ramona Quimby books were my favorites, but I read a ton of her other ones too. I liked the Henry and Ribsy books (sort of a Ramona spin-off series, I think) but not quite as much. I also liked the Ralph S. Mouse trilogy (more mouse books!). I’m sure I’ve read a ton more of her work, but I can’t remember any of them off the top of my head.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (series)
I literally couldn’t tell you anything about this series other than it was about three siblings who discover a secret world of fairies. I do remember it sparking an obsession with finding real fairies, and being really sad that I never did actually find any. I’m still searching though. I read all five of them, LOVED THEM, and can recall being super disappointed in the movie adaptation. I don’t remember anything from the movie either, other than apparently I found it inaccurate.
There’s also a sequel series called Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, and I happen to own the first one, but I never read it.
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Oh hey, another mouse book! I don’t think I need to say too much about this one, its still one of my favorite books of all time. It’s one of my mom’s all time favorites as well. I can recall checking it out from the library one evening and then the very next day finishing it in a single sitting because I enjoyed it so much.
There’s also the movie that I’ve seen a few times – NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS THE BOOK but not the worst movie adaptation a book has ever gotten. And Emma Watson voices the princess in it so there’s that.
Anything by Marguerite Henry
I, like many young girls, went through a bit of a horse phase at one point. I don’t really know why – I did ride a horse once during a girl-scout trip but I thought it was scary. But I loved to read books about horses! I know for a fact that I read Misty of Chincoteague; Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague; Stormy, Misty’s Foal; and Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West. I don’t think I read any of her other work (though I’m pretty sure we own Justin Morgan Had a Horse so it’s possible I read that one too.)
I also happened to own Black Beauty by Anna Sewell but never read it because for some reason I convinced myself it was a “grown up book” and I couldn’t read it, but I stared at it a lot. I was a weird kid.
Royal Diaries (series) by various authors
Ah, now here’s an obsession. My mom is very into history, so I read a lot of historical fiction when I was younger. I read a lot of different ones, but my all time favorite historical fiction novels were from the Royal Diaries series, which were basically fictional diaries written by various princesses throughout history. I devoured these – I’m pretty sure we own a bunch, but I know I got a lot of them from the library as well.
After checking Goodreads I found that there were a few that I never read!! This is outrageous – especially seeing as there was one about a princess from China that I never read?! I had an obsession with China as a small child, so the fact that I never read that one is preposterous!
But the ones I know I did read include: Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, Austria – France 1769 by Kathryn Lasky, Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile – 57 B.C . by Kristiana Gregory, Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain, 1466 by Carolyn Meyer, Jahanara: Princess of Princesses by Kathryn Lasky, and my personal favorite Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tutor, England, 1544 by Kathryn Lasky.
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
When I was younger a lot of my friends were really obsessed with the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan but I could never really get into them. I did eventually read all five books of the first series, but I never cared enough to read further. Which is bizarre considering how obsessive I was about Greek mythology. This isn’t technically a novel, but I really loved D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire when I was younger. It’s basically a big picture book full of stories from Greek mythology that I read obsessively. Like, I’ve probably read through this book over a hundred times. It once inspired me to write a very embarrassingly bad novel about Jason and the Golden Fleece.
There’s also a D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths that I haven’t actually read yet, but would like to one day.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
I actually forgot this book existed until just now as I was reminiscing about old favorite books. It’s basically about three orphan girls who join a school for dance and theater. I think I read this book during my “theater phase”. I was in a few plays as a child, and enjoyed it, but unfortunately it never went anywhere and I haven’t done theater since. I also did ballet once when I was a very tiny child, but that also went nowhere. I have little to no memory of that time but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it – honestly all I can really recall from the experience is getting new stuffed animals after performances (a ballerina doll, and a teddy bear named Teddy that was one of my greatest friends for many years).
The Mysterious Benedict Society (trilogy) by Trenton Lee Stewart
I had to save the best for last. The Mysterious Benedict Society is one of my favorite middle-grade trilogies of all time and I have fond memories of reading them. These books are about four children who are exceptionally smart that have to go on a secret undercover mission in an evil school. Not only is it an addictively fun story, but its full of tests and puzzles that you, the reader, can solve too! Sadly, I could never solve them myself… But it was still really fun to read!!
There’s also a prequel called The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict all about Mr. Benedict when he was child and while I wasn’t nearly as obsessed with it as I was with the rest of the series I still found it very enjoyable.