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What book(s) meant the most to you as a child?

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I'd love to know which books or authors were most influential to you as a child -- you know, the ones that made you love reading, maybe made you want to be a writer.

And part two of this question: Can you see a link between what you write now and what you read then?

My favorite author was Judy Blume. I read every book on the "Also by Judy Blume" lists in her other books. Had to sneak into the high school section of our school library in sixth grade to get my hands on FOREVER. I loved her. I think I can still remember the story lines and most of the character names in all those books, they were so real to me. I also loved Laura Ingalls Wilder, a close second. My WIP is fantasy, and most stories I've written or future books I've had ideas for are fantasy or historical fiction. I've never been inspired to write contemporary fiction (although I still love reading it.) So in that way I do not see a strong link to Judy Blume, although certainly her influence is ingrained in me.
#1 - July 22, 2012, 04:55 PM

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The Borrowers....I wanted to drink from a thimble and have postage stamps for art . 
Katie No Pocket by Emmy Payne.
Little Women
Any Charles Dickens novel...
#2 - July 22, 2012, 05:43 PM

The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, The Velveteen Rabbit - I'm still carrying around a stuffed animal I've had for 40 years because I can't convince myself he's not "real."
#3 - July 22, 2012, 06:42 PM
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)

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I read The Hobbit every summer as soon as school was out from 7th - 12th grade. It was a rite of summer vacation - my poolside read.  When I was in elementary school, I LOVED the Little House books as well as Misty of Chincoteague. I wore those books out!
#4 - July 22, 2012, 06:57 PM

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Walter Farley's horse stories, Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon books and any mystery books I could put my hands on.  I cannot tell you how many times I reread the Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon books I own, but it was probably to the point I could say some of the parts out loud.  Hand me the original 16 Trixie Beldon books and I can still give you a summary of each book in great detail.  I can also tell you where the errors are when the authors changed. 

Yes, I tend to try and write mostly mysteries and contemporary fiction. I love looking for ideas for mysteries in everyday life and dreaming up a story around them.  I find ideas in the most creative places.  (Real stories even)

I do not write horse stories as I while I can ride a horse, it has been over thirty years (Oh NO, it cannot have been that long ago, I must have been a baby!) since I last sat in a saddle.  Horses are big animals, with powerful muscles, stable horse (which I mostly rode, have very stubborn personalities and want to be back in their comfort zone although they love being petted.  The last horse I rode was not a stable horse and it was a joy!).  Other than that, I could not write about a horse other than my own experience.  "Kick her hard and she go where she is supposed to go!"  me "But she is pregnant!"
#5 - July 22, 2012, 06:57 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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Definitely Nancy Drew - I even joined her fan club. I couldn't get enough of her books. Trixie Beldon, Little House on the Prairie and the Ghost of Windy Hill - an absolute favorite of mine in the 5th grade. There was also this book about some kids who were trying to solve a mystery in some desert or mine country - rumors of gold bricks somewhere in the mines and this "ghost" of a dead miner who was protecting it. I read it many summers in a row, but can't believe I can't remember it's name! (There was something about canned peaches with this story. . . it sounds really odd, but I loved it.)

So, mostly mystery and adventure stories for me, and no, it is not what I write now - I'm doing mostly picture books and non-fiction magazine articles (with not so much success, but I'll keep trying). I'm not convinced I could stick with a longer story, but as my kids get older, I'm tossing some ideas around.
#6 - July 22, 2012, 07:15 PM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)

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A Wrinkle in Time
The Chronicles of Narnia
Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series
books by Ruth Chew and also Alexander Key (Escape to Witch Mountain, etc.)
Roald Dahl books
kid mysteries, like Trixie Belden
The Lion's Paw, a very old (but still good) book by Robb White

I never cared for contemporary, realistic stories. I wanted fantasy with an underpinning of some deep truth, or some kind of heroic choices that would translate into real life--but was interesting as a story. Also mysteries or adventure stories that took me somewhere OTHER than my real life. And I never liked issues books (Divorce, Death, Depression, etc.--Steinbeck's The Red Pony, for instance, has never been my favorite book).

I may be able to read more widely than I write, but yep--pretty much my writing follows my early reading choices.
#7 - July 22, 2012, 07:21 PM

Great questions!

I loved fantasy (Carbonel, King of the Cats; James and the Giant Peach; Half-Magic; Bedknob and Broomstick) and realistic fiction, both contemporary and historical, especially books by Eleanor Estes, Catherine Woolley, Beverly Cleary, Elizabeth Enright, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Sydney Taylor.

I like to think these wonderful authors influenced my writing. In looking at what my childhood favorites had in common, I'd say most of them were character-driven, warm, specific in detail, a bit whimsical, lightly humorous, and hopeful, all  qualities I hope to emulate.
#8 - July 22, 2012, 09:37 PM


Oh, I read all of the Black Stallion books, and the Island Stallion (which get pretty dang weird, but were still fun) I loved the serialized books too, The Saddle Club and Thoroughbred. Oh, and The Babysitter's Club, of course. I had dozens and dozens of those.
I also loved Beverly Cleary, especially all her non-Ramona books. Ramona was cool, too, but I remember loving Otis Spotford, Ellen Tebbits, Socks, Henry and Ribsy.
#9 - July 23, 2012, 07:41 AM

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The Five Little Peppers books by Margaret Sidney ~ My grandmother introduced them to me and they were a shared pleasure between the two of us.:-)
I also loved The Happy Hollisters, The Bobbsey Twins and the Cherry Ames books (Cherry was a nurse who solved a different mystery each book)

God bless,
#10 - July 23, 2012, 07:58 AM
Susan York Meyers, Children's and YA Author

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Loved Enid Blyton and Dickens as a child. Also biographies. I didn't even think about writing until I was 12 and read Cronin's Adventures in Two Worlds (autobiography of an English doctor turned novelist).

My tastes have always veered towards the real and true stuff, and that is also what I like to write (contemporary, historical, nonfiction).

#11 - July 23, 2012, 08:42 AM
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I read every mystery I could get my hands on (Phyllis Whitney's, Trixie Belden, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, Mabel Esther Allan, etc).  I also loved historical fiction and/or family drama (Elizabeth Friermood, Norma Johnston, and Madeliene L'Engle's Meet the Austins).  I read all of L'Engle's books, including the fantasy.)  I still love romantic suspense (not a far cry from childhood mystery), and I've started trying to write that style, as well -- though the majority of my books have a mysterious element.

I've written one historical novel, and it was a lot of work (ha) :)  I don't really read them anymore, so unless it's a time in history which truly fascinates me, I doubt I'd write that.  However, the first group of books I wrote were all similar to Tamora Pierce's world settings -- I didn't read her until I was a late teen, but I definitely saw an influence there.
#12 - July 23, 2012, 08:49 AM
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales:

Dr. Seuss early on--which made me an incurable rhymer.
Ramona, Ramona, Ramona! I loved everything by Beverly Cleary, but Ramona I really related to!
Horse crazy, so all the Stallion Books and everything else by Farley.
How to Eat Fried Worms, (I actually tried it--and failed) I write mainly boy humor.
Harriet the Spy--I wanted to be her . . . until she got caught. And I don't like tomato sandwiches. I still have the class copy which somehow made it home with me and never went back. Ahem.
The Anne books and Little Women, although I didn't read these until I was grown. I do write some historical fiction, but honestly, reading L.M. makes me want to crawl in a hole for thinking I could write!

So glad to have parents that bought me books and loved the library!
#13 - July 23, 2012, 08:54 AM

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I think my insatiable desire to read began with discovering The Borrowers in my elementary school library. As a tween, I remember a book called The Horsemasters which I loved so much I only allowed myself to read a chapter a day so it would last and last. Then as a teenager I found Mary Stewart and devoured all her novels. When I was about 16 I discovered The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and that kept me happy for a while.

I read all the time (Gone With the Wind took 3 days), but those are the highlights I remember.
#14 - July 23, 2012, 09:50 AM

All of Beverly Cleary's work, Nancy Drew, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie. My Side of the Mountain had a particularly strong pull on me (which probably explains why I live out in the country, among other things). I was also fascinated by Greek myths.
#15 - July 23, 2012, 09:57 AM

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I read all of Nancy Drew. The Hobbit. But Little Women was the most influential. I read it at that perfect age when I finally could connect the feeling of catharsis to the book I'd just read. I've been a catharsis junkie ever since and I try to write books that have it to some degree or another (hopefully for the reader, too!).
#16 - July 23, 2012, 10:31 AM
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 05:06 PM by TracyH »

I just wrote a guest blog post for The Nerdy Book Club Blog about my favorite childhood book, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and how it connects to my writing. It went live today!

Good topic!

#17 - July 23, 2012, 10:39 AM
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I loved a lot of Victorian and Twentieth Century British fantasy.  From E. Nebsit (the Five Children and It) to CS Lewi s (Narnia), PL Travers (Mary Poppins ) to Phillipa Pearce (Tom's Midnight Garden).  Loved Oz, too. 
A lot of the books above were series fiction as were my other (non-fantasy) favorites.  My sister was into Nancy Drew and the Black Stallion. But I was (and still am) a Trixie Belden fanatic!
I was thrilled to see all the Trixie Belden fans here (Lizstraw, dkshumaker, olmue, andracil)!  I have read and reread the 39.  Buying the last ones as an adult (and being disappointed with their quality).  I buy old hardcover version and still have all my old paperbacks on a book shelf at home. 
A few years back I wrote a #40, which can be found here: 
It's as long as a real Trixie and I tried to capture the style and characterizations, while bringing the characters up to the present day, and rounding out the series neatly.   I also made all the characters  a little older (Trixie is turning 16). 
So even though I would love to write a magical middle-grade fantasy book (and have just the hint of one percolating in my brain).  I would have to say the Trixie Belden books influenced me most as a writer.  It had been a long-time dream of mine to "write a Trixie".  And while a mystery series I was working on for younger kids is one the backburner, DRAWN TO YOU, the first book in a series I created called The Arts-Angels, comes out in September.  This was completely influenced by Trixie in that, when I was reading the series, I used to think, "If only I could create my own series where teen characters hang out, work together and help other people."  The Bob-Whites were kids from outside of town, so they hung out because they were neighbors out in the country.  They came together as a group to solve mysteries, and often in doing so, raised money for charity, saved people from financial ruin, cleared innocent names, etc.  To bring it up to today and make it more my world, I created a group of kids who attend a HS of the arts (and major in different art forms) who come together to make music as a rock band, and who help other people through different scenarios.  But I totally based in on the Trixie Belden model.  I may even write my own fiction where the Bob-Whites and Arts-Angels meet!  Ha!

#18 - July 23, 2012, 11:36 AM
The Arts-Angels, Track 1: DRAWN TO YOU
2012 from Brushstroke Books


I loved a lot of authors listed here, but I can't think of what made me want to be a writer. I do remember being about five or six and walking around my room pretending to write to Mr. Henshaw.

I was also a huge fan of the babysitters club series. For years,  I identified with Mallory, who was the oldest of 8 (I'm the oldest of 5),  and wanted to be a writer. It's a little bit alarming to see the hatred for her online today, not that I stalk BSC discussion forums or anything...
#19 - July 23, 2012, 02:26 PM

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The Little House
Nancy Drew
Little House on the Prairie series
Ramona books

But I have a very strong memory of a book that blew me away as a kid...Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. I absolutely loved it. Perhaps it helped clarify a piece of history that I knew little about at the time.
#20 - July 23, 2012, 03:50 PM
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A WRINKLE IN TIME did that to me.  Blew. My. Mind.  :ahh  <-- the onl u "mind blown" smiley I could really find.

I also agree with others that mentioned LITTLE WOMEN.  (The Facts of Life TV show seemed to me a kind of modern take is some ways.  Jo and Blair were like Jo and Amy, anyway.  And then The Golden Girls, Sex and the City and other shows show just how powerful the formula of using a group of 4 women can be!)

Also WATERSHIP DOWN when I was in junior high. LOVED it.
#21 - July 23, 2012, 04:38 PM
The Arts-Angels, Track 1: DRAWN TO YOU
2012 from Brushstroke Books

Thank you, everyone, for responding! I have really loved reading these.

There were some titles that multiple people mentioned, books that touched so many of us. It sparked my curiosity to compile a list and see which titles were most frequently cited.

So I put every title or author mentioned into a list and sorted through it. It is totally unscientific and unofficial, and I do not mean to rank any books. I just thought it was interesting to see which books came up over and over in this particular thread. The power of a good book to speak to such a wide range of people is pretty cool!

(And this list isn't intended to end the thread if anyone still wants to respond--would love to see more answers!)

Anyway, now that all the disclaimers are done...

Out of 96 books, the ones that were mentioned 3 times or more were:

7 people said Laura Ingalls Wilder/Little House books

6 people said Nancy Drew
6 people said Beverly Cleary books

5 people said Little Women
5 people said Trixie Beldon

4 people said Madeliene L'Engle books
4 people said The Black Stallion boks

3 people said The Hobbit

#22 - July 24, 2012, 03:54 PM

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Nancy Drew and The Black Stallion books. Walter Payson Terhune books (Lad, a Dog, etc.), Call of the Wild, Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind, Black Beauty... those I all read before 6th grade. After that I sort of "graduated" to adult books like Agatha Christie, Zane Grey, and Shirley Jackson (weird mix, eh?)

But, I didn't decide I wanted to write for children until I was reading to my kids. I think Charlotte's Web and Dr. Seuss had a lot to do with my decision. Well... those and Z for Zachariah (when my oldest daughter read it in school.)
#24 - July 24, 2012, 04:58 PM
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I remember getting Trixie Belden books for my birthday.   :)  I read most of them, even though I found them a little corny and already outdated in the '70s.

I preferred the Marguerite Henry horse books to the Black Stallion series. I enjoyed just about all other horse books, except National Velvet (do American kids really understand all that British slang?). 

Another Little House fan, and Harriet the Spy (I could relate to Harriet, as an odd kid myself  :nanana:).

#25 - July 24, 2012, 11:07 PM

Can I add some picture books to the list? When I was in high school, I started collecting children's books, starting with everything Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (and Molly Leach) ever did together.  I still remember the first time I read Stinky Cheese Man.

To answer the second question: Right now, I'm only drawing but if I do write a pb someday, I'm sure it will be quirky and it will be inspired by Jon, Lane, and Molly, 100%.
#26 - July 25, 2012, 05:10 AM
If you don't try, you have no chance at all. - Carole King
Every day's a good day when you paint. - Bob Ross

Judy Blume books (I remember wanting to write books like hers at the time.)
Ray Bradbury (junior high and high school years)
Alexander Dumas
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (Anne was a writer too!)
NARNIA series
#27 - July 25, 2012, 08:19 AM

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Some already mentioned, and The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
#28 - July 25, 2012, 04:38 PM
I've Got a Tail! - Amicus Ink 2020

Oh I loved L. Frank Baum and all the Oz books, Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys and as I got older I graduated to Stephen King and Saul, never did get beyond SK :D
#29 - July 25, 2012, 08:40 PM

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Loved Felix Salton as a child.  There is absolutely nothing like the original (and dark) version of BAMBI anywhere in children's literature today.

#30 - July 25, 2012, 09:15 PM
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 09:21 AM by Betsy »


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