I don’t know about you, but I was a total bookworm when I was younger. I still read for fun now that I’m older, but since school, work, and life have started taking up more time, my leisure reading is basically a summer pursuit.
But back in elementary and middle school, I always had my nose in a book. I would read for hours and hours on end during weekends, and accumulated a massive collection of books. Seriously, I have two bookshelves crammed to bursting with young adult literature that I haven’t touched in years. But there were several series that hold a special place in my heart (and sizable chunks of my bookshelves).
Animal Ark, by Ben M. Baglio
I think it’s the secret dream of every kid to have a million different exotic pets. These books allowed my kid self to live vicariously through Mandy, the main character and veterinarian’s daughter, as she found animals in trouble and helped save them. Even back then, I remember thinking that these books were an extremely easy read, but I kept reading them to see more animals being saved. It was always a feel-good ending!
Silver Blades, by Melissa Lowell
Chance of a Lifetime (Silver Blades), $3.99 from Amazon
If I was a fan of one thing when I was younger, it was figure skating. Silver Blades followed four friends — Nikki, Danielle, Tori, and Jill — as they worked towards becoming figure skaters. I took lessons for a number of years, but never got anywhere close to being as good as these girls were. So instead of waking up at 4 am for practice, I read about them doing it. These books described skating moves and coaching in detail, and also focused on the girls’ friendships. I loved this little glimpse into what it takes to be a competitive skater.
Pen Pals, by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
BOYS WANTED (Pen Pals, No 1), $2.95 from Amazon
These books were about four girls at an all-girls prep school who run an ad in a newspaper for boy pen pals. Four boys from a nearby all-boys prep school answer and, of course, adventures and some romance ensue. I was so jealous of them! I mean, who wouldn’t want a cute boy as a pen pal? And I think this was my first look at how catty girls can be; in one book, Palmer decides she doesn’t like her pen pal, and steals Amy’s from her. Scandalous!
Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, R.M.S. Titanic 1912 (Dear America Series), $10.95 from Amazon
This is the series that proves to me that I’ve always been a nerd. Each book in this series is in the form of a diary written by a girl, each at a different point in history. There’s a girl on the Mayflower, a girl kidnapped by Native Americans, a girl traveling west on the Oregon trail, a Jewish immigrant girl, a girl on the Titanic, and a girl in Hawaii during Pearl Harbor… and those are just the ones I have! I wish I’d gotten to read more, because I found them absolutely fascinating. They humanized history and made it feel so much more real.
The Babysitter’s Club, by Ann M. Martin
The Babysitter’s Club #1 Kristy’s Great Idea, from Amazon
Ahh, the holy grail of my younger self’s book collection. I have an obscene number of these books; it’s kind of ridiculous. I think every girl has read at least one of them, but for those of you that don’t know, they’re about a group of 11 and 13-year-old girls that babysit kids and form a business/club around their services. I used to think they were so grown up and cool, but as soon as I turned 11, I realized, “wait a second, Mal and Jessie are MY AGE? Okay, there’s no way they’d ever be babysitters in real life.” But still, I loved them! There’s Claudia, the funky artsy one. And Kristy the athlete. And Dawn, whose parents were divorced and grew up in California. And Stacey, the fashionable New Yorker. Alright, I’ll stop there, because I could go on forever about how much I loved these characters.
I think that’s the great thing about kids’ series. Most of them have dozens of books in them, so you could really bond with and get to know the people in them. I love a well-developed character more than just about anything. They’re what draw me to my favorite TV shows and books. I really do miss reading a good series! It’s been a long time since I’ve bonded with a new character! Does anybody have any recommendations?
What were your favorite childhood books?