Two things made up my childhood: Animals and books. There were dozens of other things but those two are the most consistent and defined. I started learning to read when I was three years old. My mother was a stay at home parent who grew bored and decided to make teaching her toddler to read a pet project. We couldn’t afford books so we would walk to the library once a week to pick out things we wanted to read. It was a grand Victorian building that still stands to this day, though now it has been rebuilt since parts of it were blown up during my childhood. Good old, Northern Irish Troubles, not even libraries were immune on bad days. The library was split in two, adults to the left and the children’s section to the right, so when my mother and I walked through the doors we would part ways. I would find her again when I found the three books I wanted to borrow, because 3 year old me had her own library card. I was like Matilda, except I had a mother who loved me. Maybe I will revisit that library and write about it some day. I have always wanted to.
Starting school brought along more books and bigger words. Due to my head start in reading my teachers had to bring in books from the classrooms of older students to keep me entertained. Nothing in the classroom library was challenging enough so my mother complained to the school and that started the importing in of books from the years above to keep me happy. I didn’t have many friends in primary school, and the few I had were dyslexic and spent their lunch times in special extra lessons. So I spent my lunch time play times sitting on a wall with my back against a cherry blossom tree reading while the rest of my small school played around me. I was never lonely or bored, I had fictional characters for company.
So these are my top 5 childhood reads.
All Dr Suess Books
The beginning is always a good place to start. My mother taught me to read using Dr Seuss. I still remember walking into the children’s section of the library and seeing the shelf with every Dr Suess book lined up on it. They had a magnificent collection. I would always lift one and gradually I read my way through the entire series by the time I was five. Of course I dont remember the first book I ever read, but according to my mother it was Fox in Socks. Green Eggs and Ham is always one of my favourites though, and I quote it quite often.
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl
This was one of the first two novels I ever read, and the reason why I picked out this one over the first novel is that I enjoyed this book more. I read Fantastic Mr Fox DOZENS of times. I read it so often that I could fly through it in a single bedtime sitting. I adored the main character and his cleverness, how disgusting the villains were and the morbidness of Mr Fox getting his tail shot off. This book made my childhood and it was one of the few books I actually owned. I used to keep it under my pillow for regular nightly rereads, at least until my parents bought me Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to give me something new to read.
Tailypo by Joanna Galdone
I lost a month’s worth of sleep because this book. A source of nightmares isn’t something you expect from someones Top Childhood Books, but this book marked my childhood so much that I just had to put it on this list. This book was so scary that children in my school were daring each other to read it. You might remember me mentioning a similar thing about Welcome to Dead House but I actually read this one at the time. I have reread this picture book since and I didn’t loose any sleep over it but it still creeped me out, though that could be my inner child telling me to burn the bloody thing and throw the ashes into the sea. For a month I just kept picturing the Tailypo monster sitting at the foot of my bed waiting to rip my insides out.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
My first Sherlock Holmes novel. I first read this book when I was 9. I found a battered old copy of it in a charity shop and begged my mother to buy it for me. Before I got my hands on the book I was OBSESSED with Basil of Baker Street and the Granada series of Sherlock Holmes. (Look up Jeremy Brett if you want a brilliant adaptation to watch) Do you know how small children make their parents watch the Little Mermaid or Frozen over and over until everyone hates it? Well, for little me that was Basil of Baker Street. I was odd. Screw princesses I wanted to be a Sherlockian mouse. It started a lifetime Sherlock Holmes addiction and naturally once I was old enough to read at that level I picked up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I still have my original copy of this book and it is even more battered than it was when I first bought it due to its many trips in my school bag. It even has childish scribbles inside where I ticked off the stories I had read as I progressed through the book multiple times. This is one of those books you can look back on and say formed who you are as a person.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by JK Rowling
I think Harry Potter is going to be on most people’s lists.
I read this book after all of the books listed above. The Prisoner of Askaban was the first Harry Potter book I read. The series wasn’t popular yet and I didn’t know that the other books existed, or that I had to read them in order. I still remember the day it was bought for me. My grandmother decided I had earned a treat and told me to go into a nearby bookshop and pick out anything I wanted. I stood in children’s novel section reading the backs of various books. This one had wizards and murderers in it and a big scary dog on the back, I was sold. I flew through it multiple times before finally getting my hands on the first and second books. The fourth didn’t exist yet and I had to wait a year or two before it did.
I dont think I can say that Harry Potter was my childhood like some people claim because I already had other books that did that job before Harry showed up in my life. I can say that it has formed my social life though because all of my friends now and my partner are Harry Potter fans. We all know our Hogwarts houses, wizarding careers (since we are all too old for Hogwarts), buy each other wands as gifts and even travelled to America together to visit Harry Potter Universal Studios. It has given me so many memories and lifetime experiences.
And to answer any house and career questions: I am a Slytherin, and I work for the Mystery of Magic dealing with abused and illegally traded magical creatures.
This was a bit of a rambling post but I hope you enjoyed it. What were your favourite childhood reads? Or even better, what would your Harry Potter wizarding career be?
Top 5 Tuesdays are hosted by Bionic Book Worm.