Friday, July 28, 2006

Book Influences

I think one of the reasons I'm drawn to writing kid's books is that the books we read as a child seem to have such a profound impact on us; the memories of those stories linger with us for an entire lifetime. And while I've read some amazing adult books, they just don't become a part of my bones like the books I read as a child did.

Books that saw me through childhood were: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, The Little House on the Big Prairie books, The Once and Future King. As a teen, The Lord of the Rings rocked my world. When I try to think of adult books that had the same impact on me, there aren't any. Although there are a few books that did radically shift my perspective, especially as a writer.

What about you? What books were the anchors of your childhood? How did they shape who you are today? Obviously my love of fantasy was planted very early.

And are there any adult books that you feel had the same impact on you as your childhood favorites?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps its not just that children's books are for children that make them so important to readers, maybe its that they all seem to be rooted in myth and fantasy. Take Nancy Drew, her character struck such a chord with so many generations because she was the realistic embodiment of a fantastical heroine.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments on Nancy Drew. In fact, she was the forerunner to some of today's most beloved children's book heroines like Hermione in HP and the heroine in Tamora Pierce books. The archtype of the girl who pushed beyond the boundaries her societal role imposed on her.

Sheri said...

"The Happy Hollisters" by Jerry West were favorites. Of course CS Lewis and Tolkien. McKillip. Walter Farley's Black Stallion series--oh, did I dream of owning a black Arab horse!! Jack London's "White Fang". SE Hinton--"The Outsiders", "That Was Then, This Is Now". Louisa May Alcott. Agatha Christie. Frank G. Slaughter. Who wrote "Ben Hur"? Read that I don't know how many times! Shakespeare--believe it or not I had read all of Shakespeare by the time I was in 6th grade! Greek mythology. Albert Payson Terhune's "Lad" books about a collie. Nancy Drew--of course! "The Three Musketeers". James Herriot. Zane Grey. Terry Brooks. Is that an eclectic collection or what?! I began reading only books with horses or dogs in them, then moved on to fantasy and mythology (read everything I could find on Robin Hood and King Arthur--The Once and Future King was great), and from there I went on to historical books and classics. I only recently (last 10 years or so) began reading romance and even more recently discovered chick lit.
Adult books? Hmmm. No, I don't think so. I read Madeline L'Engle's great trilogy in college at a desperate time in my life and they saved my life--literally. Great books to escape into when your head is going to explode! *grin* But those are children's books also. I still find myself drawn to the children's book area whenever I go into a book store--the books are so much more fun there! I always wanted to write children's books, really. I even have a couple that I have finished that I wrote back in Junior High. Great stuff, as far as I am concerned, but probably not marketable. Haven't looked at them in years. Should pull them out and put them on a disc...

Katy Cooper said...

Books in my childhood that haunt me now? The Chronicles of Narnia. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain novels. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Sally Watson's Witch of the Glens, Lark, and the one set in Colonial Virginia in the 1770s. The Mommy Market (I think that's the title--three children try to find a new mother, and find the search isn't as easy as they thought it would be...) The Borrowers, if those were the books about the tiny people. The Little House series. E.B. White: Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. And Joan Aiken, too.

I could go on and on...

dee said...

Oh, I loved TCON. Like some of you here, I was convicned that one day, Aslan would be merciful and open the gates for me, and I could go in and marry Peter. He was my destiny. Really. Other girls dreamed of cute guys they read about in TigerBeat, and I dreamed about Peter.
I also loved the Little House series, because I really thought I *was* Laura. I was born in Kansas about 10 minutes from one of her homes, and I guess I thought that really meant something. I was convinced that I could write stories about all of my moves and people would love them as much as they did hers.
I discovered Loisa May Alcott about 5th grade, and so I actually led a dual life as Laura Ingalls AND Jo March for a while. My favorite was "Jo's Boys", and it still remains one of my favorite books.
I found Katherine Patterson (oh gosh, is that her name?)in Junior High. "Jacob Have I Loved" is probably my all time favorite book, ever. I even hooked Gret on it.

There are very few books that affected me the way those named above have. I don't know that any books that I read today have had the same sort of impact. There are one or two from contemp authors that I can't get out of my head, but I won't name them here.

dee said...

Ok, I did the first comment for ME, now I have to do an OT comment. Please bear with me.
Some of you know that we homeschool our 6 kids. The oldest 3 have been to school, but not the others. My 4th child never set foot in a school. He was my guinea pig, barometer, and litmus paper, if you know what I mean. Nobody else had ever really "taught" him anything, he was all my responsibility. The test, for me, was if he learned to read or not, and if he ever developed a LOVE and a PASSION for reading. If so, then I would feel that I was a success with my style of homeschooling. If not, then I feared he would need a million hours of therapy that I would have to pay for, because I was the one that screwed up his life AND HE NEVER LEARNED TO READ.
Well, Mathew is 9 years old now. He's such a boy it's not even funny. He loves the outdoors, and wrestling, and any type of sports. I worried that he would never have that LOVE for books. His older brother has it. Michael has devoured every last Magic TreeHouse book ever written. But Mathew never found anything that he could really enjoy. I was so devastated.
Until earlier this summer.
A package arrived in the mail from an ANGEL, named R.L.LaFevers. She sent all four of her gorgeous books to my kids. I read them all, then started reading them aloud to my little people. We flew through them, and everyone enjoyed the stories. I told her how much everyone loved the books and she was glad. But that's not all...
Last week, driving to VBS, Mathew was riding up front with me. He had Book 2 from the Blade trilogy with him. He'd already finished Book 1, by himself, without ever telling me. He read that book the entire 30 miles to church. Then he got mad when I wouldn't let him read on the way home (hey, it was dark!). The next day, on the way to Paramount's King's Dominion, he had the book and wouldn't put it down. He's still reading it. I was worried that it was taking him a while, but he told me that he reads each page twice, just to find new stuff. Plus, he wants to make it last, because it is so good.
In his words,"Mom, you know how you like Jenny Crusie? Well, this is like a Jenny Crusie book for me. I could read it over and over again. But I can't wait til your friend writes more books, cuz I know they'll be just as good! She's awesome!!"

So yeah, Robin. Keep writing. Write more, write fast, you're brilliant. I feel validated as a home educator, and it's all thanks to you. I can't even explain how big my smile was when he compared your books to Jenny Crusie. I know that will give you a grin as well.

Thanks so much!

Robin L said...

Wow, Dee! What writer doesn't DREAM of hearing words like yours. What an immensely satisfying story. It gave me goosebumps. (And, okay, I'll admit, I got a little teared up.) I'll be smiling for a week. At least!

Thank you so much for sharing that anecdote!!