Cherished Childhood Books

Were you a voracious reader as a child?

In my childhood we had more time to read than children do now. We didn’t have the distraction of electronics, extracurricular activities or even much in the way of children’s programming on TV. And bless her heart, my mother encouraged reading and drove her kids to the library once a week where we were allowed to borrow  as many books as the library allowed. I spent hours curled up in nooks and cubbyholes reading to my heart’s content.

I recently completed a delightful book called Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading (Lucy Mangan.) Although the author grew up in a different decade and country than I did, reading about the books that shaped her life stirred up memories of books that have stood the test of time for me.

One of the first books I remember from early childhood is Pooky (Ivy L. Wallace). It starred a delightful little rabbit with wings who set out to find his fortune. “What was a Fortune? He had no idea, but he thought it must be a mixture of happiness, lettuce and kind words.” (I totally agree.) There was a whole series of Pooky books and I cherished every one.

The first novel I remember reading was Call It Courage (Armstrong Sperry). I believe it was one of the first books taught after we’d completed the Dick and Jane readers. The Polynesian setting was new and exotic to me. How I felt for Mafatu as he desperately faced his fear of the sea. This may be the book that started my lifelong obsession with novels. Then came Harriet the Spy and who didn’t love Harriett?


My favourite high school novel was The Chrysallids (John Wyndam). It was full of dark, disturbing themes and one of the only books I’ve reread in recent years. To this day I’m haunted by the forbidden telepathy shared by the children in this story.

As a teacher in the ’80’s the novels that I loved to read to my grade two, three and four students  were The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis),  Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Judy Blume).  I still have a painting of a beautiful lion head (the mighty Aslan) hanging in my home, and it may be after first reading Charlotte’s Web that I gave up eating meat.





Then I became a parent. One of the best parts of raising small children was reading picture books again. A couple favourites from those days are Stellaluna (Janell Cannon), The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear (Audrey Wood), and The Napping House (Audrey Wood.)





In Bookworm, Manganese’s says that by the age of six “I didn’t need parenting, just feeding and rotating every few hours on the sofa to prevent pressure sores”. I can totally relate. I’m hoping that someday I’ll have grandchildren so I can share my passion for children’s books with them,  revisiting my old favourites and keeping abreast of what is new and wonderful.

Which were  your favourite childhood books?


8 thoughts on “Cherished Childhood Books

  1. Mia Johnson

    Oh Pookie, I loved my Pookie books and my Rupert books. Dick and Jane and the little Golden books, the Girls’ Annual (my brothers got the Boys’ Annual), The Secret Garden of course, and later I was an avid fan of Nancy Drew, who could do no wrong in my eyes.

    1. Shelley Hrdlitschka Post author

      I’m glad someone else remembers Pookie! And yes, Nancy Drew was a true heroine to me, too.

  2. Darlene Foster

    I loved Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Pollyanna, Heidi, Black Beauty and the Bobbsey Twins to name a few. I also loved Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and Donna Parker when I was a bit older. Great memories.

    1. Shelley Hrdlitschka Post author

      Oh yes, the Bobbsey Twins! How could I forget them? Somehow I missed out on Trixie Belden and Donna Parker. Too busy reading all the Nancy Drew titles I guess. 🙂

  3. monica Inglis

    The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Napping house are both great books! Some of my favorite books to read to school kids was Moses Me and Murder by Ann Walsh and White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson . As a kid, I have many happy memories of reading the Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden. My granddaughter loves and collects the original Bernstein Bear books and it surprises me the “different values” they show as compared to the newer published ones. 🙂

    1. Shelley Hrdlitschka Post author

      I’m going to do a study of those new and old Bernstein Bear books Monica. How interesting!

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