Like many of you, my love for reading started young. In fact, at my grandparents’ house, there is a home video of me somewhere around three or four years old opening presents on Christmas morning and as I open a particularly large, heavy box, I squeal “MAMA IT’S BOOKS. SANTA BROUGHT ME BOOKS!” Fun fact: I still do that when I open up a wrapped book. I read almost constantly as a child, to the extent that it became an actual problem and a few times, I had to be grounded from my precious pages. I would love to experience that again, the joy and wonder of discovering my favorite stories for the first time, staying up all night and waking up snuggling my copy of Goblet of Fire when my mother woke me up for school a mere three or four hours after I’d finally fallen asleep with my face in its pages. It’s such a magical feeling, finding your first favorite author and your first fantasy world. Today I thought I’d take you through my childhood, up through my teens in my favorite books! Classics, guilty pleasures, silly rhymes and all, they have all become a part of me over the years.
#1 – The Gammage Cup: A Novel of the Minnipins by Carol Kendall
This was actually my very first fantasy book ever even before Harry Potter. I must have picked this up when I was barely 6 or 7 and I have since passed it on to my brother and hope to read it to his daughter as well. I adored this book and I read it over and over until it fell apart. It tells the story of a tiny race called the Minnipins who must defend their home from the Mushrooms. It’s wonderfully silly and it was a huge joy for me to read as a child.
#2 – Dreadful Sorry by Kathryn Reiss
I must have checked this book out of my middle school library 20 or 30 times in two years, I was obsessed. Not quite fantasy, not quite time travel, more like paranormal fiction without the annoying tropes. A high school student is facing the threat of not graduating with her class if she can’t pass the swim test, as she’s terrified of water. Due to an unfortunate series of events, she ends up hiding out in her father and stepmother’s new house in Maine and discovers that the house has a creepy secret relevant to her phobia. I recently read through this again and could almost feel the old excitement I felt when I read it in 7th grade.
#3 – Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
I’ve always loved faeries. Since I was a child, I have been all about them. I collect ceramic faeries actually and when Disney started releasing Tinkerbell movies, I was stoked even though I was already well into adulthood when the first movie was released. This book I’ve spoken about briefly before but I wanted to mention it here because it was hands down, my favorite childhood fantasy series. It isn’t necessarily child-level because of some of the more mature themes surrounding Kaye but I digress. As I’ve said before, I picked this up at a used bookstore in my hometown I wanna say the summer of ’03, maybe? I fell in love immediately. My tween self was enamored with Kaye and Roiben and I SO desperately wanted to be best friends with Janet and Corny. Even after I finished the book, I would go back and read the first time Kaye enters the Unseelie Court under the hill and imagine me into the story, drinking mushroom wine from a glass made of ice and dancing with a hob in a pale green or dark blue dress made of what looks to be starlight. I haven’t read The Cruel Prince yet, that’s on the March TBR but I’m looking forward to it! In short, this was a huge part of my childhood literary journey and it’s definitely what sparked my love of YA fantasy for sure.
There you have it! These books all helped to shape me, to teach me, and to help me escape in a corner of my school library year after year, I have laughed and cried immersed in these pages more than once and I have still come out on the other side wanting to dive in again.