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August 12, 2009

Summer Reading circa 1979

Last month columnist Nicholas Kristof offered up his list of top-ten summertime reads for kids. Then he had to write a follow-up column because of all the comments (people are very passionate about books!) I love children's books. When I was little, I didn't watch TV, I read books. Lots and lots of books. Books were my best friends and sometimes my only friends since we moved around a lot. I loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Betsy, Tacy and Tib and later all the people in Sweet Valley who attended the high school of my dreams. One of my all-time favorite books is on Kristof's list, On to Oregon (when I first read it back in the late 1970s, it was called "Seven Alone.") It was that book which made me come up with my own list.

My top-ten childhood favorites:

1) The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia I can't help but wonder if this fueled my lifelong interest in all things relating to that period of history, and my near-obsession with the stories of the European Jews. This is a great read, based on the author's actual life story but is suitable for children.

2) On to Oregon! ("Seven Alone") I remember reading this book when I was about seven or eight and being so scared of what would happen to the Sager kids that I stayed up all night reading to the very end. It's also a great picture of what life was like for our pioneering forefamilies.

3) The Grounding of Group 6 Great read, probably best for teens. I loved this book and have read it over and over.

4) The Laura Ingalls Wilder The Little House Collection of books. All of them. I was obsessed. I even made my own bonnet and walked around the farm pretending I was Laura. I WAS A STRANGE CHILD.

5) Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle I read every Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book I could get my hands on. I still love her to this day.

6) The Betsy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I found my first Betsy-Tacy and Tib book in a dusty corner of the old Comfort, Texas library back in the 1970s. I read the whole collection one summer, following Betsy all the way to Betsy's Wedding.

7) Go Ask Alice My girlfriends and I passed this around in the ninth grade. It was by ANONYMOUS! It was so scandalous! Of course now you have kids making pornos on their cellphones and texting sex tips so what do I know. But back when I was 13 or 14, this was right up there with Forever . . . and Wifeyas the must-read books that we knew would scandalize our parents.

8) Bridge to Terabithia Beautiful, tragic, lovely.

9) The Misty books -- Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy, Misty's Foal, Misty's Twilight, Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague. Do girls still read horse books with rapt enthusiasm? I think maybe I'll write a horse book. What the world needs now is more horse books.

10) The Chronicles of Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King Perfect for your fantasy side. And the Black Cauldron was scary!

11) From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Oh come on. A CLASSIC.

12) A Wrinkle in Time I know this is on everyone's list but it really is one of the all-time great reads.

So there is my Top Ten-now-Twelve. I'm sure I forgot about 400 books, but those are my picks this morning. Just looking at this list makes me want to go home and open up a book and get wrapped up in its pages. Nothing makes you get out of your own head and into someone else's like a deliciously well-told story.

Posted by laurie at August 12, 2009 9:03 AM