85 Comments
Feb 14·edited Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

They're certainly decaying, but I do have my most favorite - A Wrinkle in Time - along with By the Shores of Silver Lake and Alice and Wonderland. I still regret not hanging on to my collection of Nancy Drew... When I was quite young, I remember always reading a couple chapters of Charlotte's Web before bed, and starting it over once I finished it. I do think I enjoyed books about people learning how to do the right thing.

Expand full comment

Oh, so many to delve into here, but I'll start with the standouts: the Anne of Green Gables series, the Little House series, the Trixie Belden series, The Secret Garden...most featured a spunky girl character who went on adventures. Many of them are now on my teenage daughter's bedroom bookshelf. I know she hasn't read most of them and maybe never will, but it's somehow comforting to me to know they are still in close proximity to a young girl. (I have many of them downloaded to my Kindle, and re-read them all yearly.) (Actually just started Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery because I never got around to it as a child, but I figured it's never too late for more L.M. Montgomery!)

Expand full comment

My most important early books all had main female characters that helped me feel seen more clearly as the sort of girl I actually was-- very smart, often angry and sad and flummoxed by family and friendship, and harboring secret shames about very dark things that were happening in my life. Those early books included A Wrinkle in Time (and all the subsequent sequels), The Secret Garden, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Bluest Eye (which isn't a children's book at all, but came to me when I was 11 and saved my life). I read widely and voraciously, so there were many other books that I enjoyed, but these stayed with me forever.

Expand full comment

I'm sorry to say I didn't save many books, but I just pulled out my worn copy of Heidi Grows Up, the sequel to Heidi. My grandmother gave it to me and I have her inscription in it, so it was spared the recycling bin. Before Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and all things Louisa May Alcott, I remember going to the library in the next town over (we didn't have one) to get books in the series of "Cherry Ames - my first one was "Cherry Ames" Army Nurse. I am realizing now that I don't have them because most of my early books were library books. I also kept my Alice in Wonderland.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

Excited to see all the Madeleine L’Engle fans here. I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time and thinking “wow, I didn’t realize books could be like this.” I recently found some copies of the 70s cover series and I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to read them.

Thinking back on my childhood faves (Chronicles of Narnia, Coraline, Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, Golden Compass, The Ear The Eye and The Arm, The Tripod Trilogy, The Giver), I notice a young inclination towards fantasy and sci-fi, which has only grown since.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

I devoured EVERYTHING Judy Blume, Baby Sitters Club books, Little House, and Sweet Valley High. But my favorite was Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. I wish I had my original copy.

Expand full comment

Here's a little book love from the memoir I'm writing: Readers know the delicious smell of older books, where ink and age are minced on the page. The best books contain the paw prints of earlier visitors. A splash of coffee. A folded corner. A binding that has cracked and falls open to favorite pages.

Books welcomed me into the lives of other girls who didn’t fit in, who were confused and dismayed, rushing to raise our hands until we realized that we would need to find the answers on our own.

I can’t imagine my childhood without the authors and characters who made me feel less alone in the world-- Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume, E.B. White, Carolyn Keene. They gave me a band of misfits to run with. Beezus and Nancy and Scout and Fern and Meg and Ramona and Margaret were my posse. We all had questions and wild longings.

None of us were bad kids. We just needed to touch the wet paint.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

I loved so many of the books readers have listed here. I also loved the two boarding school series by Enid Blyton--Malory Towers and St. Clare's. My father found them at the only English language bookstore in Quito, Ecuador (in the late seventies when we lived there for my father's job and I attended middle school) and brought them back for my sister and me. I still have some of the bedraggled originals. I read them out loud to my two sons when they were in elementary school--who says boys can't enjoy stories about girls?? My husband would take over and read the dialogue with the French teachers' accents (the Mam'zelles) and we would all laugh uproariously. Ahhh, good times.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

I loved – and still love – Charlotte’s Webb. The other other books I read and reread as a child included Hitty, Her First Hundred Years; Tom Sawyer; Little Women; Black Beauty; and all of Marguerite Henry’s books. I was fortunate that my aunt, who was very close in age to me, was part of a book-of-the-month club in the 1960s, and she was very generous about letting me borrow anything I wanted. (I am sending this comment from a table at Kitties Cakes after picking up a copy of My Thoughts Have Wings from Gramercy Books!)

Expand full comment

Nancy Drew and anything from the Dear America series. I still love history whether that is nonfiction or fiction. I also always remembered a few scenes from a novel I read as a kid and decided to do some Googling and discovered it was called Webster's Leap. I found it and reread it a few months ago and it brought back all sorts of memories, so I own that one now.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

I echo others - Nancy Drew: The Clue in the Crumbling Wall, specifically, may have sparked my love for Ireland and castles. I also LOVE Corduroy and as an adult, I made sure my children both had their own copy of this book. Something about that little bear in green overalls missing a button, being seen as less than perfect through the eyes of the mother, but perfect and in need of love in the eyes of the child that just warms me every time!

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

Congratulations on publishing your newest book! Two books I loved as a child were Virginia Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Syd Hoff's Danny and the Dinosaur. Two other books which I loved and which scared me to death (and I still have them and they still scare me) were the Tall Book of Mother Goose and the Tall Book of Nursery Tales, both illustrated with the beautiful and creepy illustrations of Feodor Rojankovsky.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

I had a cassette recording of The Velveteen Rabbit (narrated by Meryl Streep) that went with my book. The illustrations were gorgeous, and I got lost in that story so many times. I still have the book! My first grade teacher read The Boxcar Children to us, and I couldn’t get enough. In fourth grade it was Superfudge, and then I felt so grown up reading everything Judy Blume. I couldn’t wait to read Superfudge out loud to my kids. We read a lot of books out loud as a family. Seems like the common thread is hearing beautiful and funny stories as a kid.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Book of Verses was a favorite. My mother had such a good voice for poetry.

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

The Best Loves Doll

Blueberries for Sal

Nancy Drew

I could go on forever.

I have most of these saved and now they belong to my grandchildren.

Expand full comment
Feb 14Liked by Maggie Smith

The Reading Rainbow book Just Us Women by Jeannette Caines was a favorite with my daughters and me. The “no boys and no men” journey was empowering and freeing.

Expand full comment

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. My mom took my copy to a Penwomen conference for Judy Blume to sign. It’s in a bag in my treasure tub.

Expand full comment