25 January 2011

Top Ten Books I Wish I'd (Been Able to) Read as a Kid

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created & hosted at The Broke and the Bookish

Each week a new Top Ten list is posted that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 


Before I start with my list, let me explain my title...  When you grow up in a religious fundamentalist home with parents who are very strict & closely adhere to the tenets of their religion, there are lots (LOTS) of rules, which naturally means there are lots (LOTS) of things that are against the rules.  Access to a large scope of reading material (or should I say LACK of access) falls under the purview of the rules.  If it wasn't (isn't) true (to life, meaning NOT fiction), it was not on the approved reading list, UNLESS it was published by a denominational publishing company, in which case it was sanctioned.  Sad....very sad, because it leads to a gaping hole in one's knowledge of literature, its origins, its history, its development, its value, etc. when one becomes an adult and has the benefit of hindsight.

Now I am, and have always been, a bookworm.  I LOVE to read.  I thought I had access to all that I wanted to read, until my first trip to the public library as an elementary schoolgirl.  There, what should I find but Nancy Drew.  Oh WOW!!!  This was the beginning of my subterfuge.  It was back in the day when dropping  your kids off at the big, downtown public library was still safe...still ok.   We just had to be ready to go at the prescribed time, so my plan was to make sure to check out my books right before my mom was to collect us, giving me an opportunity to hide the contraband inside my jacket before she checked through my stack (yes, that happened!!).  My younger brother picked up on this as well, and Hardy Boys were his choice du jour.  So we went from having to be retrieved from the kids room (reluctantly), to being miraculously ready to go & out front with our books, waiting for my mom to arrive.  What little rapscallions we were...sneaking one or two banned titles home, reading them at night, under the covers with a flashlight, and sneaking them back to the library again.  I can't remember if we were ever caught.  Maybe.  What I can remember is a voracious need to have access to books...lots of books...and most especially, books that other kids were reading but I could not.

Now in retrospect, what is incredible to me is that these books were an issue at all.  There is nothing inherently wrong with them.  They don't go against the tenets of any faith, so far as I can tell.  Further, there is nothing that is not fundamentally true at its core.  But, to be a fully participating member of the reading world, one unavoidably rubs elbows with bookworms of all walks of life.  So, does the separateness that is a hallmark of my religious upbringing naturally extend into even one's reading life?  Does it naturally dictate that in order to remain separate, one has to be separate in all things?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I am playing a lot of reading catch-up as an adult, and I'm making sure my kiddo reads...and reads...and reads...and reads.

So, here is my top ten for this Tuesday!

1.  Green Eggs & Ham...and every other Dr. Seuss book that looks fun.
2.  Where the Wild Things Are...and every other Maurice Sendak book I can find.
3.  The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
4.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
5.  The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
6.  Anything by Roald Dahl
7.  Anne of Green Gables Series by L. M. Montgomery
8.  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
9.  The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley
10.  The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
11.  Anything by Robert Cormier

There are lots more, but these are off the top of my head.


  1. Some other faves for me (some from childhood, some discovered later) - Madeleine L'Engle, Edith Nesbitt, Alexander Lloyd, Shannon Hale, John D. Fitzgerald (Clint read out loud the whole series to kids. They still quote it.), Elizabeth Enright, Mildred D. Taylor, Sandra Boyton, Lois Lenski, C.W. Anderson, Edward Ardizzone, Barbara McClintock... okay I'm stopping.

  2. Oooooohhhh....more books to read!! Thanks Danielle!!

  3. +JMJ+

    Hi, Laura! Your story is quite eye-opening--especially when paired with the list that follows. So even squeaky clean Anne of Green Gables wasn't allowed??? =(

    I agree with your conclusion that reading only "approved" books leaves a huge hole in one's knowledge of literature--which isn't a good thing. I've never been a big fan of this sort of separateness in the name of religion; although I'm very religious myself (and hoping I don't seem to be shoving it down your throat!), I was taught to think of believers as "in the world, but not of the world." It's another kind of separateness that doesn't involve being cut off from anything secular that might also be good.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. We have a couple of titles in common!

    Roald Dahl was a huge favourite of mine when I was a young girl - I read everything he ever wrote over and over again but I haven't read anything of his for years and years. I should go back and see if I still feel the magic!

  5. The Little Prince was one of my favorites growing up!

    Tevya @ Reading Lark

  6. WOW Laura, does that mean you didn't get to read any of these? Or these are some of the books you snuck home? I didn't get to read any Dahl when I was young either- but I think it was just that I never knew about it him back then. And did you really not read Dr Seuss? That would be too terrible.

  7. I didn't read Dr. Seuss until I was in high school, and a good friend gave me Oh, the Places You'll Go for graduation. I read them to my kiddo all the time. :-)

    As for so many of the other titles, I have read some. By the time I was in high school we were no longer affiliated with that church. Plus, I don't know that I would have cooperated with any reading restrictions by that time.

    A couple people asked about specific titles. Other than Nancy Drew, I don't recall any specific titles being on the "no" list. I don't actually think most of these authors/books were even on the radar. It was more an issue of checking my library choices & removing the offenders...and if it was a novel, it was an offender.

    There were exceptions - I got to read Little Women and the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, and anything that was in our church school library was allowed. There was one shelf..not a bookshelf, a single shelf...of "unoffensive" novels that I read voraciously, some of them several times. Imagine my delight getting to a public school (10th grade) and discovering not only the larger library, but what was taught in class. Can you believe I had never heard of Huckleberry Finn until 11th grade??