If you've read anything that I've written for this website, you'll know that I love reading. I love getting lost in a totally new world, and I love writing new worlds for other people to lose themselves in. I have always been a storyteller. In fact, when I was little, I used to line up my stuffed animals and tell them stories about princesses, astronauts, and mean second-grade girls. Over the course of my childhood, I read many books that shaped who I would eventually become, and I have pulled together five such books. Some of them inspired me to write, others inspired me to act, and some simply allowed me to lose myself in my own imagination. Without further ado, here are five of my favorite books from childhood:
1. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
I think it's funny that I keep saying I hardly ever cry at books, and then immediately after talk about a book that made me cry... Kate DiCamillo has a habit of making me ugly cry with her writing. This miraculous story (ha, get it?) is the first book that I can remember crying at. I was eleven years old, sitting in a chair listening to my mom read to me, and she was crying too. This is a story about a toy china rabbit who gets lost and meets many characters on his journey to finding his owner again. Some of the people he meets are kind, and others are terribly cruel. It's such a beautiful story that ends just as beautifully. I've read this a couple times in the last six years, and every time something different sticks out to me.
2. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is the book that made me want to be an author. It is also the book that made me want to be a princess even more than I already did, but mostly it made me want to write. I remember being ten years old and disappearing behind the bookshelf at school during math time and reading this in secret. For a while, I wanted to name my future daughter Ermengarde, because she's my favorite character. Growing up, I didn't have a lot of friends. I would walk around the playground using the curb as a tightrope, trying not to fall over. I would practice standing up straight, perfecting my posture so I would walk just like Sara. This book gave me an escape, but it also gave me the dream of being a writer, which is something I can finally say I am doing.
3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry is another author that has a way of captivating my entire self. The Giver series is another set of books that I love dearly, but I excluded it as well as all the American Girl books because they are series and I wanted to only include single books. Number the Stars is the book that began my obsession with history and Denmark- a country that I have yet to visit. This book sparked a sense of curiosity in me for the things I don't understand. There's something about the idea of what friendships is that makes this story as beautiful as it is.
4. The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown
When I was eight years old, the dance studio where I took ballet and tap lessons had a couple weeks set aside for acting lessons. The teacher had written a couple plays and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in both of them. After the last play was over, I overheard the director tell my mom that I was a good actress for an eight-year-old, and that struck something in me. I had a drama class in sixth and seventh grade, and then did drama again my Freshman year of high school, as well as a couple months my Sophomore year. This book is the reason for that. From the ages of eight to fifteen, I read it at least once a year. It's about a group of kids aged eight to sixteen, and they found the Blue Door Theater Company after discovering that they are all interested in the arts. Every time I read this, I found myself identifying with a different character, whether that only be based on age or on shared interests. I loved this book very much, and I still do. It was the encouragement that I needed.
5. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
I have saved the best for last. This is the book that I will defend until I am old and gray, and will forever go back to for comfort. My mom read this to me and my brother when I was nine years old, and that was by far one of the worst times of my entire life. I don't know what it is about a little mouse talking about love, but it was exactly what I needed at that time of life, and still need today. Some of my favorite quotes come from this book, including "Love, as we have already discussed, is a powerful, wonderful, ridiculous thing, capable of moving mountains. And spools of thread." I have loved every book by Kate DiCamillo, but this one is definitely my favorite. This book sits in the middle at the top of my bookshelf, basking in the glory of my accolades. Out of all the books on this list, I have read this one the most. I didn't mention it in my "16 Books I Read While Being 16" post, but I read this one twice. This is such a beautiful portrayal of love, loss, family, and forgiveness, and it is right up there with "To Kill A Mockingbird" when it comes to my favorite books.