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Books That Raised Me

I was raised with books.

Books were an essential part of our home. My dad had his bookshelves full of Stephen King and Robert Crais. My mom had her ever growing and evolving TBR stack next to her bed. On family trips to the mall, our meeting place at the end of the visit was in the mall bookstore. Yes, malls used to have bookstores. And I wish they still did!

Reading was a precious time for me to spend with my parents. The books that they read aloud to me are still some of my favorite stories. I am honored every time I get to help pass them on to my nieces and nephew.

I think the books that matter to us tell an awful lot about our character, our personality, our lifestyle. So, I'd like to share with you a non-exhaustive list of some of the books that helped raise me so that you can get to know me a little bit better!

The Monster at the end of this Book

The book that started my love of reading. If you haven't read The Monster at the end of this Book, please stop reading my post and go get yourself a copy!

This book made me laugh as much as it stirred the worry and anticipation of what kind of monster could possibly be hiding behind the pages.

It holds such a tender place in my heart!

What Was I Scared Of?

The pale green pants with nobody inside was a staple story in our household. So much so that my dad had the whole book memorized! Word for word! He'd recite it for us at bedtime, in the car on a long drive, he even performed it for my third grade class on show and tell day!

As much as this is a story about being brave and facing that which goes bump in the night.. It is a story about acceptance, not judging a book by its cover, and welcoming those who are different into your life.

The Phantom Tollbooth

Another book that I love because of my dad. This is one of the first chapter books he read aloud to us and he made this book come alive. This book has dozens of characters, big and small, and my dad had a different voice for each and every one of them.

Listening to him read this story helped me figure out how to read to myself. How to make reading interactive and entertaining. It made me a life long reader.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

If you were a kid in the 90s then you know how thrilling, how scary, how exciting it was to pull this book off of the shelf from your elementary school library! I mean, look at that cover! That can't possibly be a book for kids can it?!

But it is! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a spooky, safe way to allow kids to explore the horror genre. The stories could be scary... But they were silly too! Often after a really spooky tale, the following page would have some sort of silly song or poem to break the tension.

I still love these stories and think there is immense importance in allowing kids to explore and experience scary things in a controlled, safe way!

Wayside School is Falling Down

Louis Sachar has a very special place in my heart because of Holes, but Wayside School was my entry point into Louis Sachar's bizarre, kooky brain and I will always love it! I loved stories about ordinary kids being put in absolutely extraordinary situations, especially in the safe space of a school!

I recently reread Sideways Stories and Wayside School is Falling Down with children that I nanny and these books hold up! They are so weird and entertaining!

Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots

I wanted nothing more in life than to be a Bailey School Kid! Every time we went to the bookstore in the mall I'd run right over to the shelf for independent readers and see what monster was popping up at Bailey School next!

These books had everything I had come to love as a reader... Whimsy, a little spooky, and set in a school environment that I could relate to!

In my own writing journey, I recently reread Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots for inspiration and guidance on pace, character building, and style. Wow! It is such a simple, fantastic little read! I can see why it is now being adapted into a graphic novels for 2024 readers! It has withstood the readers test of time!

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was the first "big kid" chapter book I picked out myself. It took some digging for me to find the artwork on the original cover that captivated me, but I found! Based on everything you've seen about my history as a reader, it probably makes a lot of sense as to why this book cover stuck out to me!

This is the first book I remember reading independently, and when I finished the last page and closed the book... I immediately flipped the book over and started reading it again!

I credit The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe for making me a life long reader. So much so, I have the lamppost illustration tattooed on my arm!

Dear America Voyage on the Great Titanic

I was that girl in elementary school... Absolutely, head over heels obsessed with everything Titanic. And this book is the reason why! The Dear America books were historical fiction chapter books written by young girls at different points throughout history. Voyage on the Great Titanic told the story of an orphan girl who was going to America as a traveling companion on the Titanic. The story is told through diary entries of her time on the ship and the subsequent sinking.

As much as I loved this book for the Titanic... I loved it because it showed me a new way stories could be told. Reading a story from the POV of a girl around my age, her thoughts, her feelings, her experiences in a first hand account really excited me!

I can definitely see how my childhood reading choices have impacted the reader I have become! I love whimsy, I love things that are a little off... A little spooky! I love a mystery, and I love main characters going on a quest or an adventure!

What books helped raise you? Can you see their impact on the reader you have become?

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