Sunday, July 12, 2009

Best Children's Books of All-Time

NYTimes writer, Nicholas Kristof offerred up his own list of the Best Children's Books of All Time in his column this past holiday weekend. And from the 1,500-or-so comments on his blog, he apparently sparked the early childhood reading memories of plenty of adults. His list surprised me to be honest. Most of them I've read, but some I hadn't like Lad, a Dog and The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and On to Oregon. All the usual classics were mentioned in the comments though I didn't read all 1,598 of them. But I did read quite a few (I just couldn't stop!) and I got to thinking about my own very strong memories of summer reading and while I never participated in a summer reading club (shame on my parents!) I read voraciously in the summer and have done so ever since.

I spent my days at the the Dormont Swimming Pool, still one of my favorite places to cool off but mornings and evenings and cloudy, rainy days were spent in my little yellow room with the AC cranked as high as it could go (despite my mother's repeated warnings to turn it down!) I had it so high, that I could snuggle down under a comforter and the world slipped away while I read The Trixie Belden Mysteries and Choose Your Own Adventure books. These books pulled me in more than any others during my late elementary years. Funny that I never got into Nancy Drew, but I loved those Trixie Belden mysteries like The Gatehouse Mystery, The Mystery off Glen Road and The Mystery at Bob-White Cave. Trixie and Honey were a superb team and I always pictured myself alongside helping find clues. My love for a good mystery grew when I started reading Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark in high school.

And those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Oy! I loved those. The books that truly could be read over and over and over. I still remember Who Killed Harlow Thrombey, The Cave of Time, Journey Under the Sea, Space and Beyond, and Your Code Name is Jonah. My brother, who was 4 years older, also read those. We rarely read the same books, so this shared interest was precious. I have to confess that these books were bought, not borrowed from the library (what were my parents thinking?) But I loved the little book store in Dormont where we got them. You could bring your books in and trade them for new ones. Very library-like but without the due dates or fines. Brilliant, really.

Just thinking about those books gives me that summer-rush-tickle-in-my-tummy and I know that's the feeling I long for anytime I'm choosing my summer reads. And on occasion, I do recapture those moments, but without the blasting AC; my husband would kill me.

What were your favorite summer reads as a child? And what are you reading this summer that may allow the world to slip away if only for an hour?