Which Childhood Books Turned You into a Reader?

Illustration for article titled Which Childhood Books Turned You into a Reader?

According to a new study out of the University of London’s Institute of Education, kids who spend time reading for fun perform better in school than kids who don't (buncha nerds).


Via MediaBistro:

The researchers, who are based in the IOE’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, compared children from the same social backgrounds who had achieved the same test scores as each other both at ages 5 and 10. They discovered that those who read books often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gained higher results in all three tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly. The combined effect on children’s progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree. Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way.

Oh my GOD, studies like this make me so jealous of my younger self. I can't believe how hard I took it for granted when my entire job was to sit around reading the complete works of Tamora Pierce while listening to Revenge-era Eurythmics. When I was a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on, twice. I'd check out 20 library books at once because I just couldn't control my x-treme cravings. I pretty much credit that obsession 100% for my writing career—I never felt like I needed to "learn" how to write, I just absorbed the rules and rhythms of language by osmosis.

Anyhoo, now that I have a pair of smart, funny, frustratingly iPad-obsessed pre-teens in my care, I find myself continually yelling shit like, "WE'RE ALL GOING TO READ NOW AND YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT, GODDAMNIT." I managed to get the little one hooked on Pippi Longstocking and the older one freaking out over the True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, but they both BLASPHEMOUSLY lost interest in my follow-up suggestions (The BFG and Alanna: The First Adventure, respectively). They'd rather read Twilight knock-offs and Pretty Little Liars novelizations, and I've promised myself I will not judge, but I do want to keep trying to funnel awesome kids' literature their way.

So, what else should I try? What books did you read as a kid that left a lifelong impression? What YA books do you still re-read? Post them in comments, using this format:

  • Book title & image of book cover.
  • Author & year of publication.
  • Personal anecdote/persuasive argument for why this book is the fucking best.

I look forward to your responses, as well as the nostalgic YA burrito I plan on transforming into for the entire weekend. (Does anyone have a copy of The Dark Is Rising I can borrow?)


Montauk Monster
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1932
  • Example One: I received the entire box set for Christmas when I was six years old. My mom read the series when she was a girl, and wanted to pass that on to me (and also borrow them from time to time.) These are pretty thick for a six-year-old, and they feel like proper books. Little House in the Big Woods remains my favorite. I think everyone who ever read it remembers the descriptions of clothes and food.