Awhile back I did a stint at a local elementary school as a Reading Buddy – helping a kid who has trouble reading learn to read more/better through one-on-one storytime sessions. As the end of the ‘semester’ drew near, I wanted to get her a book that she could keep and read and hopefully enjoy as much as I did when I was her age. I immediately thought of one I had checked out repeatedly from the school library back in 2nd grade. It had magic, fairies, adventure, heroism, and above all, these absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Only problem? I could not for the life of me remember the title of it.
I thought it was something to do with a place called Sun Mountain or the magic tapestry that is at the center of the story. An extensive Amazon search revealed other versions of the same tale, but not the brilliantly illustrated one I remembered. Then, finally, I FOUND it. It is, in fact, called ‘The Weaving of a Dream’ by Marilee Heyer.
I promptly ordered it, and then gloried over the color-filled pages when it arrived.
This whole saga made me think back on other books from my formative years that played a big part in shaping my reading taste and love of books. So I thought I would compile a list of my very favorite ones here (that I can remember, at least), and share it.
In no particular order:
The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key
Doors to other worlds, telepathy, amnesia, danger… This book may have been my first venture into the world of science fiction, and might possibly be to blame for my continuing pursuit of it. I still have a copy.
Midnight in the Dollhouse by Marjorie Stover
I was about the main character’s age when I read this, and also had a dollhouse. What little girl that age wouldn’t want her dolls to come to life?
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
Similar to Midnight in the Dollhouse, but instead of the dolls coming to life in our world, the kid gets shrunk down and comes to life in the world of the castle/dollhouse. Also one of my earlier introductions to fantasy.
Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O’Dell and Elizabeth Hall
Technically historical fiction, but also a surprisingly good read and insight into another culture.
Dealing with Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles) by Patricia Wrede
A fun and light fantasy satire: princesses who volunteer to get captured by dragons, good-hearted witches, enchanted forests, etc., it gives nods and prods to many established fantasy and fairy tale stories. This series may have paved the way for Steven Brust’s style to enter my reading world and remain as a favorite.
Angelina Ballerina by Katherina Holabird and Helen Craig
A younger-age picture book that proves determination really does pay off. I loved the illustrations in this one as well. This is the book I ended up getting for my Reading Buddy, as I didn’t remember the name of the other one in time.
Over Sea, Under Stone (Dark is Rising series) by Susan Cooper
And here, my introduction to epic fantasy series – ultimate battles between Good and Evil, seemingly impossible quests, courage, sacrifice, etc. But don’t see the movie associated with the series (The Dark is Rising) – it’s horrible. This book is also responsible for a period in my life where I constantly searched for secret rooms in houses.
Feel free to leave comments with your own favorite childhood books! I’m curious as to which books shaped others’ reading tastes. 🙂
I used to do something similar at elementary schools, but it was to play chess with little kids. Some of them are pretty good at it, others still tried to pretend the king was Batman and the pawns were little criminals.
Oh man, this makes me want to hit up the children’s section of the library very badly! And just judging by the cover of that book, it already looks gorgeously illustrated! I’m sure she loved it 🙂