When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.
– You’ve Got Mail
This quote from ‘You’ve Got Mail’, Nora Ephron’s ode to the bookshop, is one that really rings true for me. The books I read and love now don’t stick with me to quite the same extent as the ones I read and loved as a child.
Some of my childhood favourites are now long out of print (the copies I had must have been ancient) while some have stood the test of time, and popularity, and are still easily available.
For historical fiction, I loved The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier, following a Polish family during WWII, and Henry Treece’s The Viking Saga, which roamed from Scandinavia to the New World to Ireland to Spain and Turkey.
For fantasy, The Hobbit was soon followed by The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (a wondrous fairytale set in the West Country in 1842), The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner (adventure story based on English folklore), and, slightly later, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea (high fantasy set on an archipelago; Le Guin’s writing still gives me goosebumps), and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (still one of my favourite novels ever, it’s atmospheric, eerie, and powerful).
Children often love stories about animals and I was no exception – we used to have the audiobook of Michael Morpurgo’s The Butterfly Lion which we would listen to in the car, and I still love this book and recommend it every week.
What is it about the books we read as children that makes our memories of them so enduring, and so fond? I’d love to know what you think.