"There is no friend as loyal as a book." - Ernest Hemingway
And truer words were never written. I went through a lot of rough patches as a kid/teen, but books were always there for me, even when no one else was. There are several books from my younger years that have special places in my heart and have shaped who I am and how I move through the world.
This is why I'm so excited to participate in the Nostalgiathon: a readathon dedicated to rereading your favorite childhood books. It's been a tumultuous year and the idea of revisiting some favorite books sounds really refreshing.
Below are the challenges followed by the books I'll be reading and some brief descriptions as to why I'm choosing those books.
(Note: Although I've only included two of the books on this list, I plan on reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia series because I've been meaning to do so for a while now and I know that reading one book will just make me want to read the rest.)
A childhood book with pictures - Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
The whole Narnia series has pictures, but the ones in this book are my favorite. I love seeing the representations of the different places that Caspian, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace went. The drawings in which Eustace is a dragon are my favorites because the illustrator captured his emotions so well.
A friend's favorite childhood book - The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Upon seeing this prompt, I immediately texted my partner to ask about their favorite childhood books and they sent me back a list of several different ones (further proof that we are very well-matched). The Joy Luck Club has been on my TBR for quite a while, so I opted for that one, although I'll probably read the rest of their recommendations eventually (those that I haven't already read, of course).
A book with a fantasy element - Stardust by Neil Gaiman
While this technically falls outside the realm of kidlit, I did read it in high school and adored it. I read a lot of fantasy in those years, but this is one of the few books that really stands out to me. It took the lighthearted elements of fantasy that I love and added a healthy dose of romance.
A popular childhood book you've never read - Smile by Raina Telgemeier
There are many things I disliked about the year I spent teaching middle school, but one thing I loved was getting to see the kinds of books my students read. One that was popular with my entire sixth grade class (twenty-four kids with a wide range of reading levels and genre preferences) was Smile. I didn't get a chance to read it while working there, but I'm really curious to see what it's like, since it was so beloved by my students.
A book with a character you want to be - The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
My desire to be whisked away to a fantasy world began with Narnia. I wanted to be Lucy Pevensie so badly—partially because she's such a good and kind-hearted character who strives to bring out the best in people, but mostly because I wanted to find another world (and I still kind of do).
Alternate: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin
I've read a lot of Baby-Sitters Club books, but Claudia was always my favorite. I loved her creative fashion sense, her passion for art, and her messiness. I always wished that I could be as effortlessly cool and chill as she is.
BONUS - Fanfic to bring back all the feels - Waterfall by warinbabylon
Ah, Aragorn/Arwen: the couple to first introduce me to smutty fanfiction.
This is one of the first ones I read and, despite the very conservative ideas about sex that thirteen-year-old Brynne had, reread many a time. This is really beautifully written and is one that I still think of when I'm writing sexy scenes (even if, like in this fic, the characters aren't actually touching). It's short, but a) obviously I'm going to read the companion pieces and b) I want to read the whole Narnia series, so I think this is fair.
Life Challenge #1 - Watch a favorite childhood movie
My parents were pretty strict with how much time my sister and I spent watching movies, so the ones that I do remember have a strong hold on me. The one I watched the most was definitely The Swan Princess. I watched it so many times that even now, twenty years later, I remember some of the previews on the VHS.
Life Challenge #2 - Do an arts and crafts project
I'm extra excited about this one because arts and crafts were something that I'd do with my mom. The anniversary of her death happens to fall during the Nostalgiathon, so on August 10, I'm going to pick up a sewing or painting project to honor her.
Life Challenge #3 - Play your favorite childhood game
PBS Kids was my life for years and when we first got Internet at my house, I immediately went to the PBS Kids website to play all of the Arthur related games. I doubt the games are the same now as they were when I was a kid, but I'm excited to play them all the same.
And that's it! If you're participating in the Nostalgiathon, drop a comment to let me know what you're reading—and if not, tell me about your favorite childhood books!