Influential Books from my Childhood

I was thinking recently about some of the books I read growing up that I still feel the impact of today. I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Matthew Looney’s Voyage to the Earth by Jerome Beatty Jr.

    Matthew Looney’s Voyage to the Earth tells the story of a boy living on the Moon who has always dreamed of space travel. Matthew is a typical Moon boy with a family, a pet, and a plan to fill a summer position at his father’s work. That is, until his world turns upside down when he learns of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to be the cabin boy on a space expedition to the uninhabitable planet Earth.

    I remember this a fun little series of children’s books and certainly played into my early fascination with space.

  2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

    This Newbery Medal-winning novel by bestselling author Katherine Paterson is a modern classic of friendship and loss. Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.  In addition to being a Newbery Medal winner, Bridge to Terabithia was also named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and has become a touchstone of children’s literature, as have many of Katherine Paterson’s other novels.

    This one has stuck with me largely because of the beautiful way it deals with friendship and tragedy. The times when I had few friends my imagination became a place of refuge. I also thought the movie adaptation was quite well done and loved getting to see into the world of Terabithia.

  3. The Cay by Theodore Taylor

    Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curaçao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed.

    When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.”

    But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy.

    A required reading book in school, the themes of this beautiful story have stuck with me. I loved the transformation of Phillip in the story and the growth. I had forgotten the name of it until I acquired a library-bound copy earlier this year.

  4. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A McKillip.

    Sixteen when a baby is brought to her to raise, Sybel has grown up on Eld Mountain. Her only playmates are the creatures of a fantastic menagerie called there by wizardry. Sybel has cared nothing for humans, until the baby awakens emotions previously unknown to her. And when Coren–the man who brought this child–returns, Sybel’s world is again turned upside down.

    One of my first YA books. I came across this book at a library that had a small section for YA books. I wonderful fantasy book that I still have fond memories of.

    Feel free to share your thoughts or any books you read growing up that still effect you today.

Until next time, see you among the stacks.


Updated: September 15, 2016 — 10:14 AM

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