It’s been a hot minute (or two or three…) since I’ve written in this space or posted on my Instagram, but I’m officially back after a lengthy illness. Thanks to everyone who read or followed me while I was gone. I’m eager to talk about what I’ve been up to as well so expect a few posts over the next few weeks.
I’m happy to be back hosting #BookishBloggersUnite. This week is about influential childhood books/series. Due to my upbringing, I imagine mine will be nothing like anyone else’s, but here we go!
Ironically, before I found out what today’s topic was, I talked to my mom about childhood books I enjoyed and Richard Scarry came up. I remember his books very vividly and have gone down a rabbit hole today to learn more about him. Most of my memories were about the word books which help kids learn the words for certain things. This is a car. This is an ice cream. This is a mouse.
One of my favorite thing to do as a kid was solve problems or puzzles and Cars and Trucks and Things that Go had the famous Goldbug. I wanted to find him on every page. This turned into my joy of look and find books, finding Easter eggs in games, searching for references in Gilmore Girls, and recognizing influences in literature when I was in college English.
I also found myself on the ever “reliable” Wikipedia and found references to Richard Scarry’s updates to his books when the times changed. For example, he removed gender-specific roles and made them more gender-neutral such as men helping in the kitchen or being flight attendants. He also removed references to Indians or put them in neutral clothing. Of course, now this makes me want to learn more about him and read about his life so I imagine I will be down this rabbit hole for a while.
The Left Behind Series for Kids
Ugh; I do not miss rapture anxiety. I went to an Evangelical church growing up, but I was raised by very open-minded parents. This was especially true when it came to books; they never really discouraged me from reading. I got books for Christmas, birthdays. We went to Barnes and Noble on Saturdays to get a coffee and a book. My dad always found a 1000+ page book on an US President; the latest was Truman by David McCullough which is longer than my Bible and could probably knock someone out if I threw it.
Did I have Harry Potter growing up? Yep. Did I also have Left Behind? Abso-freaking-lutely.
When I was a senior in high school, I finished the adult series just because I wanted to see if I could make my way through it. I had serious anxiety about death and the rapture, but the adult books were laughable especially the final book which was mostly whining by the survivors. The teen books were devastating. I remember reading book 13 during Tropical Storm Allison and crying myself to sleep over Ryan’s death, burial, and exhumation by soldiers. (Side note: this is so vivid to me, I wasn’t even surprised it was actually book 13 when I looked it up to verify my memory before posting this blog).
My guess is that this series was my first experience with the dystopian genre and I absolutely love it to this day. I remember reading another Christian series on demons and asking the librarian in my middle school for similar recommendations. I enjoy adventure, scheming, political intrigue, and how society survives after the end of the world. However, I wouldn’t ever recommend these to kids. The content is not suitable; even though the 40 books (yes, I read all 40) are very short.
The Ice Cream Store by Dennis Lee
Dennis Lee had a profound impact on my childhood and I didn’t even know what his name was until I became an adult. Lee was the first Toronto Poet Laureate in 2001 until 2004 and is still writing today. The Ice Cream Store is a book of children’s poetry that was written in 1991 and it’s fully of silly children’s rhymes. But, for me, the illustrations told a story on their own. There were a few that I remember and imagined the world around these characters in the poems and images. It was probably the first and only time I wrote fanfiction, even though it was only in my head.
This is probably the #1 book on my list to find someday from my childhood because it showed me that the imagination is infinite and that I can create my own worlds and characters. My book didn’t look like the picture above. It had a purple background, but the same illustration.
I hope you enjoyed this look into my weird unique childhood. If you are also a blogger and would like to participate in this week’s prompt, don’t forget to add your link by clicking the button.
Please note that, while these pictures are very helpful, none of these pictures are originally mine since I lost all my childhood books in Hurricane Katrina.